By Roland Qafoku
On March 9 this year, it will be 6 months since Edi Rama assumed his second term in office. The 33rd prime minister of the history of the Albanian state was more than enthusiastic on 22 August last year, while he was announcing the names of the new cabinet members, but also the new governing platform. With 74 seats in parliament as opposed to 41 seats of the Democratic Party, 18 seats of SMI, 2 seats of PDIU and 1 seat of PSD, this is the biggest mandate a political force has ever received, except for the victory of the Democratic Party on 22 March 1992. This was a cabinet with 13 ministers, 6 ministers less than the first cabinet, with two state ministers, 7 men ministers and 7 women ministers and what’s more, the post of the deputy Prime Minister is held by a woman. With this cabinet, Edi Rama announced the path that the second term in office would follow, by declaring that if the government worked hard during the second term in office, it would manage to secure a third term in office.
What has happened in the first 6 months of this term in office? Is this turning into a mandate of completed projects without the SMI around and with the only hands on the “wheel”? Has this turned into the mandate of the alliance with the people and has this marked the end of injustices? The answers to these questions start with a conclusion: This is the SP’s term in office and the Prime Minister along with his ministers no longer have an alibi. Successful or not, they will only have one responsible party for it: the Socialist Party, its chairman and Prime Minister Edi Rama.
FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION
The SP may continue to claim that it is reforming the justice system, but the truth is that during the first term in office and during the first six months of the second term in office, there has been no senior official who has been sent to prison by this majority for corruption. Those who have been arrested up until today used to be heads of directorates and mayors, who didn’t belong to the Socialist Party, but mainly belonged to SMI and PDIU. But is a political force fighting corruption if it doesn’t fight it within its ranks first? This majority has not done this when it was in alliance with SMI and it’s not doing it now that it’s governing on its own. If the government continues to claim that Berisha and SMI’s ministers are to blame, then this is a pretext for a lost battle in these 6 months.
DID THEY BRING THE THREE NOVELTIES THAT THEY AIMED TO BRING?
Ministry for Enterprise, ministry for Diaspora and ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, were the three novelties introduced by Edi Rama during the second term in office. The Prime Minister declared that during this term in office, he wanted to build proper relations with businesses in order to bring economic growth and wellbeing. In fact, we have a 3% economic growth, but we don’t have economic boom. We have the ministry for the Diaspora with its minister, Pandeli Majko, but besides seeing a minister who wanders around and the first former prime minister who is given a post without portfolio, we have seen no foreigners originating from Albania to have invested in the country, let alone other achievements.
We have the ministry for Europe which has merged with the ministry of Foreign Affairs, but the opening of negotiations is being delayed so much that Rama needs to compare himself with Berisha’s government.
ECONOMIC GROWTH IS NOT SUFFICIENT
It’s true that economic growth is 3%, but this is nothing compared to the targets that were set and the promises that were made. During the election campaign, PM Rama declared that Albania was expecting to have a big economic boom. But, this hasn’t been the case. The pretext that PM Rama used relates to Sali Berisha’s government.
220 thousand new jobs were promised by Rama, 80 thousand less than the first term in office. But, the country is being abandoned in great numbers. But, the situation is more serious now, because in contrast to previous years, when the country was being abandoned by manual workers, now it is being abandoned by doctors, nurses, engineers and qualified workers.
THE PLAGUE OF CANNABIS
If there’s a fact that Rama’s government should be ashamed of, is the story with cannabis. There are two facts which don’t really help PM Rama. The first one relates to the fact that in 2016, SHISH has reported that 21 tons of cannabis seed entered Albania and that there was no reaction and secondly, the Prime Minister has not met his constitutional obligation of reporting before parliament about the situation concerning drugs. So, how has the government fought cannabis? By allowing it and then by boasting that it is destroying plantations?
There’s a record government figure for 2017. The number of murders registered during the year was 52 and this is the lowest figure ever registered in a year in post-communist Albania. This needs to be hailed. But within this low figure there’s an even bigger figure. There are 12 mob like murders involving the traffic of drugs and this is really scary. Meanwhile, the number of road accidents has dropped too, if we can call it a drop. In 2017, the number of people who died in road accidents was 222, while in 2016 it was 269. Meanwhile, in 2009 it was 378. Must we rejoice over the fact that we have a fall in the number of deaths, while the number of accidents has increased? In 2009, the number of accidents was 1465, while in 2017, this number was 1978. This is an alarming figure and not just a statistic.
THE SYNDROME OF THE SECOND TERM IN OFFICE
Is this is the second and last term in office for Edi Rama and his government? Will the Socialist Party move to opposition like every ruling party has done so far after being 8 years in power? In fact, Rama had announced that this would actually be the last: “This will be the most difficult term in office since I won the elections. This government may be the first for a new era of governance in Albania or the last for a long time”.
The first six months do not seem very enthusiastic for Rama’s government. Of course, a long time needs to go by before making a full analysis of the way the country has been governed. But, knowing the golden rule that if the sun shines in the morning, the day will be a good one, the first six months of the second term in office for Edi Rama, speak a lot. We all want Albania to be better governed, but chances for this to happen are not great. The SP is not even being helped by the fact that it is governing on its own, let alone to pretend and win a third term in office.
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy