This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.albanianfreepress.al
By Eduard Zaloshnja
The meeting that took place last year on May 18th between Rama and Basha led to three things: The Democratic Party participated in the elections; the Democratic Party only obtained 460 thousand votes and the owners of the apartment bloc in Vlora, which was demolished by the government, were compensated with 14 million euros (Basha’s father in law was one of the main beneficiaries of this amount).
Everyone may consider this to be a logical error, but the events that followed last May’s meeting lead us to believe that in this case, we’re not dealing with a logical error, but a cause-consequence relation.
Prior to the May 18 agreement, the opinion polls which were published at that time showed that the DP could obtain around 35% of votes. However, after May 18, the DP fell to 30% (around 480 thousand votes). On election day, DP obtained 460 thousand votes, which also constitutes an all time low for the DP. (Let us not forget that in 1997, the DP received 600 thousand votes, although it was restricted in the areas where it could hold rallies and although this was a time when hundreds of thousands of Albanians had lost their life savings in the Ponzi schemes authorized and promoted by the DP.
We come to the present day, when residents of the area of Astir in the capital are demanding compensation for their businesses which will be demolished, in order to give way to the modernization of this area of Tirana. Democrat MPs and Basha himself have joined the protest. Of course, it goes without saying that the main reason that they do this is to collect more votes for themselves.
However, does Basha have the morale to lead the protests of those poor people, while his father in law was given millions of euros after the meeting held last May for an apartment bloc which was built illegally on an area of the coast which is property of all Albanians? Perhaps Basha solved his father’s in law problem through a closed door meeting with Rama, but residents of Astir need to burn tires and clash with the police in order to be able to receive some crumbs.
Like Jozefina Topalli has recently pointed out, Astir’s protest reminds us of the protest of Kalimash (where residents of Kukes protested against the 5 euro toll charge). At that time, democrat MPs and Basha declared that they would never allow such toll to be introduced. However, after the tax was introduced (by reducing the fee for the residents of Kukes), we didn’t see any reaction from them. This may have been caused by some shady deal between Rama and Basha.
In a similar way, the past may be repeated in the days or weeks to come. Rama may offer Basha something else and all of a sudden, the residents of Astir may find themselves on the same boat as residents of Kukes, abandoned by Basha and his Democratic Party.
Perhaps the very manoeuvres that Basha is making may be responsible for this catastrophic fall of the support for the Democratic Party. And it looks like it will be impossible for the DP to go back to its normal numbers with Basha as the head of the party. In my latest opinion poll, the DP could obtain 490 thousand votes. Meanwhile, Gallup’s latest opinion poll suggested that almost 80% of Albanian youngsters up to the age of 29 want to leave Albania, because it looks like neither Rama, nor Basha are able to offer them hope for the future.
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy