ANALYSIS/Is the reform in the justice system dividing the governing coalition in Albania?

ANALYSIS/Is the reform in the justice system dividing the governing coalition in Albania?

The opposition insists on its demand for the opposition to have reserved seats in the appointments taking place in the new justice institutions, like the Venice Commission suggested. PM Rama had previously declared that he would accept any version that “Venice” would bring. In the recent hours, he declared that he would never accept such plan. SMI joins DP and decides to back it for the reserved seats

Tirana, 14 June 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

In Albania, the talks for the reform in the justice system is being associated by the veto of the three main political forces, the Socialist Party of Prime Minister Edi Rama, the right wing led by Lulzim Basha and Socialist Movement for Integration of the speaker of Parliament, Ilir Meta, who, prior to entering the current governing coalition with Rama, was in a governing coalition with the right wing for four years.

Democrats say that without the reserved seats for the opposition in the new justice institutions, the project will not be voted in parliament.

The prime minister insists that the posts in these institutions will not be divided on a political basis and pledges that he would “never” agree on voting with such condition.

What is changing?

In essence, the reform has two columns: First, all of those who are paid with the Albanian taxpayers’ money to investigate and try will undergo and ethical and professional scanner.

Secondly, the current system will be demolished, starting with the Supreme Council of Justice and ending with other institutions and for a new system with new institutions to be built.

There are four new institutions, the creation of which will go through the parliament of Albania. Two of them relate to the vetting- an ethical and professional scanner of every prosecutor or judge who will continue or not to be in office in the future. This process will be conducted by the Special Commission of Qualification, which will filter in detail and monitor on an international basis the wealth, the decisions taken throughout the years and the professional capacities of every prosecutor or judge who will want to investigate and try in Albania.

The left is divided into two, the opposition goes back to the old love?

After many public declarations that the majority is united for the reformation of the justice system, now, on the verge of the voting, things have changed. SMI doesn’t agree on voting without accepting the DP’s condition. In fact, in many occasions during this time, SMI had declared that the reform should have passed with the votes of the opposition, considering its presence as decisive, also due to the fact that this reform amends almost 40% of the Constitution.

Now, the only point where the sides have been stuck is the appointment of judges and prosecutors. And the gridlock seems absurd, because it is a recommendation of the Venice Commission. All the political sides had declared in several occasions that they would accept and vote every recommendation of the Venice Commission. Now that the voting is close, this is not happening.

Recommendation no. 88 of the Venice Commission suggests that the reserved seats are the formula which enables the opposition to do its job and not allow the majority to control the justice system. But this point is not being fully supported.

Prime Minister Rama says that he doesn’t accept the request of the opposition which is based on the Venice Commission regarding reserved seats and adds: “I agree on finding a formula with the opposition, but never agree to make a political compromise on scanning judges and prosecutors! Political parties must keep their hands off the scanning process”.

Ibna rama

Rama says that “it has not been the intention of those who prepared the draft, it cannot be the intention of USA and EU and it is not the intention of the government to exempt the opposition from decision making in the implementation of the Justice Reform”.

Rama also has a pledge: “I would like to be very clear, although in politics you can never say never; I will never vote the Reform in Justice if this point is included. We either make a reform in justice, or we never make it!”.

On the other hand, the opposition seems as determined as the majority. Basha says that “DP has only one demand, for which both I and Mr Rama have pledged in Brussels and Washington: Fully apply recommendation 88 of the Venice Commission”.

IBna basha

Basha explains that “none of the requests is ours” and warns: “If the other side agrees, we are ready to approve the constitutional draft as of today. If the other side says no, then good-bye until you are ready”.

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The SMI has been intensively involved in this in the recent hours. This party said that it will not vote the reform if the recommendations of the Venice Commission are not accepted. In fact, this is the recommendation from which the opposition doesn’t budge. This way, SMI, the second largest and a key force of the left wing coalition, expresses an open contest against the majority which it is part of and joins forces with the opposition.

IBNA ilir meta

But if things progress with this pace, the reform in justice is racing toward a safe failure, because none of the sides has the necessary votes to pass it in parliament.

The scenarios of this situation seem to be clearer than ever: If SMI doesn’t budge from its stance and backs the opposition and the latter doesn’t budge either, then the reform will not be voted until the end of next month, when the current parliamentary session ends. If this happens, September may lead to early general elections. /balkaneu.com/