This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.albanianfreepress.al
By Plator Nesturi
Three days have gone by since the protest held against the new toll charges in Kukes and now we’re already discussion about civil disobedience. It’s a little early to move from one topic to another without taking into account the causes, the situation and the extent of suffering caused by economic policies on different categories of society. The opposition seems to have rushed a little with its incentive for civil disobedience immediately after a protest which sparked the reaction of public opinion. Protests are held to call on those who are in power to give up abusiveness and to change for the best, not lead the situation to chaos. Everyone loses from chaos.
While we’re at the issue of taxes, it’s been months now that there’s been widespread of discontent among citizens, small businesses, farmers and self-employed, because tax increases have led to an aggravated situation and that everything is becoming hard to be afforded. It’s true that the state is sustained through taxes, but when they are irrational and they suffocate business activity, they block incentives and economic development. Even more, when taxes are combined with a high level of fines,situation with businesses becomes even more suffocated. The head of the American Chamber of Commerce said that frequent tax changes cause hardship for businesses. This way, there’s no fiscal stability and in these conditions, foreign businesses may choose to leave the country. To compare Albania with other countries of the region, the head of the American Chamber of Commerce said that Macedonia is a country with sustainable fiscal stability, thus guaranteeing foreign investments in the best way possible.
So, it is clear that something is not right and that things should have been different,despite the rhetoric that we hear that the state is being strengthened, that there’s no state without taxes and that although we’re suffering from these austere measures, this is being done for our own good. We all want to have a state and order, we all want to be a developed country and feel like Europeans, but when we have nothing to put on the table for our children, then authorities are incapable of containing this outburst. The case of Kukes was a clear example for this, because that was the place where poverty was felt the most, along with the lack of investments, growth of unemployment and the growth of the number of people seeking asylum abroad. Thus, a road tax that penalizes them in a more direct manner than the others would lead to an explosive reaction.
So far, this situation is not at all a positive one and the government should back off a little, unless it wants to suffer repercussions. But, after everything that went on, we hear the opposition launching an incentive for civil disobedience, then it’s clear that there is something wrong. It’s true that this civil reaction has come first of all as a result of the tax and the difficulties that exist, but it it’s also a protest against the entire political class throughout the years. Thus, an opposition which so far has shown that people do not have confidence in it, must first of all grasp the true message of this discontent. It needs to do “mea culpa” for all of its failures during the years that it has been in power and opposition, by admitting a part of the responsibility for this miserable situation, the failures of the institutions and hybrid democracy. Inviting people to civil disobedience is a way to overthrow Rama through protests and to seize power. But, what’s the point to this if things are handled the same and if this political party does not focus on the way problems are solved, but focuses instead on the way power is seized? When they’re in power, political parties seem to think the same way.
This is not the first time that oppositions call for civil disobedience. This was even done by Rama when he was in opposition. But this doesn’t seem to be the right way. What seems to be worrying is the fact that while the political class fights, here there’s no referee who will say what is right or wrong, because institutions are atrophied and they serve the interests of the ruling party. The process of the reform in justice and the creation of its new institutions were sabotaged by the political class and this leaves us not only in a political transition, but also in a judicial transition. This sort of rebellion which the opposition is calling far, is being done at a special moment. The country is expected important decisions to be taken regarding the integration process. Civil disobedience would cause hurdles, despite the declarations issued by the opposition in favor of launch of the negotiations with Brussels. But, nobody would accept a country where there is no political stability. So, this is not a solution either. Civil disobedience, which in case seems to be like rebellion against Rama, would, in this case, be rebellion against our future.
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy