IBNA FORUM/ Growing concerns about the lack of pluralism in Albanian institutions

IBNA FORUM/ Growing concerns about the lack of pluralism in Albanian institutions

In Albania, opposition has given up its parliamentary mandates. After nearly 30 years since political pluralism was restored in the country, a part of the population is no longer represented in parliament.

The country is clearly in the grip of a political crisis, but this is not something uncommon for Albanians.

What makes the situation more worrying is the fact that the political class is now in a vicious circle, because none of the sides, neither majority nor opposition intend to withdraw.

In 2017, PM Rama obtained a majority in parliament and his job is to serve those voters who trusted him with a second term in office.

Meanwhile, the fact that the opposition is no longer part of the institutions, has left its supporters without representation in parliament.

Opposition MPs have announced that protests and quitting parliament are not the only instruments at their disposal. According to them, the situation will escalate.

Another measure that the opposition is expected to take is to withdraw its mayors.

Under these conditions, the crisis deepens even further and the solution must either come from the government or dialogue with the opposition.

In this forum, IBNA has talked to several analysts such as Arben Malaj, former Socialist Party MP and minister in several left wing governments, Neritan Sejamini, former Democratic Party MP and Zamira Çavo, former Socialist Party MP.

All three of them are distinguished politicians and their intakes on the situation are quite objective.

Arben Malaj says that the country is in a critical situation which requires an urgent solution. He warns that if the situation persists, then it will have a negative domino effect on social, economic and political developments.

malaj“Uncertainties will lead to a decline in consumption and individual and private investments, while direct foreign investments will also be put on hold. Economic growth will also fall, unemployment will rise, poverty will spread and the number of people leaving the country will increase”, are some of the gloomy predictions of former Economy minister, Arben Malaj.

According to him, under these conditions, economy will slow down, budget incomes will fall, budget deficit and public debt will rise.

What’s the solution? Mr. Malaj explains: “This negative cycle may only end through a package of political reforms and not through an individual accord between two party leaders”.

Malaj notes that if the country’s political system is not reformed by improving democracy, elections have no value.

Sejamini has served as the Head of the Department of EU Relations at the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economy, head of the Department of EU Assistance at the Council of Ministers during 1991-1995, as well as Adviser of the Prime Minister during 2005-2008. Sejamini is also the founder and the Executive Director 1996-1997 of the Institute of Current Developments.

Sejamini comments the opposition’s decision to quit parliament. He does not agree with the position of the international community, the US and EU that “this undermines the basic principles and jeopardizes the important progress that Albania has made in the rule of law and responsible governance”.

Mr. Sejamini says that the parliamentary crisis may threaten the government’s stability and the country’s political stability, but there’s no way it can threaten democratic principles.

He says that if a parliament becomes dysfunctional, then early elections should be called.

We have often seen this happening for different reasons in western democracies. When there’s a government crisis, the most democratic thing that can be done is to enable people to solve the crisis through elections.

According to him, provoking parliamentary crisis is one of the most democratic tools used in the west. Currently, Spain has just called a snap poll and nobody has considered this to be undemocratic.

Based on this, Mr. Sejamini says that one of the core political values that Americans uphold is the freedom of people to change their government as often as possible if they have no confidence on it.

Commenting the situation in Albania, Sejamini says that “although there’s irrefutable evidence that elections were rigged in cooperation with criminals, the government is refusing to be held accountable for this.”

He also notes that “all reports issued by the US government in the past two years show no improvement, on the contrary, they show a decline in governance effectiveness, democracy and human rights”.

Zamira Çavo is concerned about the fact that Albanians are divided into two sides: one side backs the majority, while the other side backs the opposition.

Personally, Çavo does not have faith on this political elite. “I have no faith in Basha and Rama, let alone Berisha and Meta. I don’t believe in their models”.

But are there other alternatives? Mrs. Çavo says: “I believe in a radical change in the way the country is governed. But this is hard to be achieved as long as people are faithful to their political leaders”.

Çavo is also concerned about the fact that today’s political leaders are only focused on seizing power and nobody cares to talk about the problems that Albanians are having to put up with: “Which one of them has ever talked about changing the country’s economic model? Who has ever talked about education or health? Who has ever talked about the increase of minimum wage? Who has ever talked about the needs of the country? Nobody”.

Mrs. Çavo has a message to send out to Albanian people: “Don’t think about politicians. This political elite is corrupt and authoritarian! We cannot change politics if we don’t change ourselves, our opinions and our reactions. If we don’t change, then we cannot expect our future to change either!” /ibna/