Prominent political analyst, Prof. Enver Bytyçi comments the latest political developments in Albania. Albania has been swept by a political crisis which has been going on for months now. Elections have been scheduled to take place on June 30, but the opposition has confirmed that it will not take part in them. The opposition has also declared that it will not allow these elections to be held. The opposition says that it will only take part in these elections if an interim government is formed in order to take the country to early general elections.
On the other hand, the majority insists that local elections will be held on the date decreed by the president. They say that there will be no early elections and that neither the government, nor the PM will resign. In this interview for Independent Balkan News Agency Media Group, part of which is IBNA news agency, Albanian Free Press and Nezavisen Vesnik, Prof. Bytyçi says that protests will escalate and the reason for this is that the opposition has no other option. “Not only the opposition’s protests will continue, but they will escalate even more, because there’s no other alternative”.
The Democratic Party has announced its decision to boycott local elections along with its allies, while the main condition that it has imposed is Rama’s resignation. How do you see this decision?
The Democratic Party and the real opposition in the country decided to boycott parliament, because of the unprecedented violence manifested by leader of the ruling party. Prime Minister Rama staked his claim not only on the government, but also on parliament. Despite the opposition’s reactions, parliament of Albania was ordered by the Prime Minister to vote anti-constitutional bills into laws. These laws only serve the interests of oligarchs who have connections with the government. In the light of numerous materials which prove that government officials have collaborated with criminal gangs in buying votes, the demand for the Prime Minister’s resignation and the creation of an interim government, which will be able to hold free and fair elections, was unavoidable.
Will the opposition continue the demonstrations and are they expected to bring anything new?
Not only the opposition’s protests will continue, but they will escalate even more, because there’s no other alternative. Those who decided to relinquish their mandates tested public opinion and were convinced that their supporters would assemble and demonstrate once Lulzim Basha and the opposition detached themselves from any possibility of making deals with Edi Rama. May’s protests will not be like the ones in April and if Rama does not resign, the June demonstrations will not be the same as the May’s demonstrations. If the Prime Minister decides to head to the June 30 elections without the opposition or with an opposition appointed by him, then he will lead Albania towards a big clash. Demonstrations will continue and I don’t think there will be any elections on June 30. If the majority doesn’t withdraw, the opposition will make them impossible. Dictatorships are the only systems where opposition is excluded.
Meanwhile, democrat leader Lulzim Basha has started to draft a program about the first 100 days of the Democratic Party in power, if Rama is ousted and citizens vote him. What can this new program bring?
The program has not yet been fully drafted, but it’s clear that this government will be different. First of all, the program highlights the need for major changes in the electoral system. The system will reflect elections and representation in parliament. The quality of elections will reflect the quality of the government. This is where change starts. Meanwhile, changes will mainly take place in the relations that exist between government and those who are governed. This means that the new government will need to put an end to arrogance and establish a new standard for the rule of law. Every system is measured by the equity in governance. Discrimination and the creation of an oligarchy lead to corruption and a rise in the influence that criminal gangs have on the government. This is what we’ve seen in the past 6 years, however, previous governments have not been immune to this either.
What is Rama’s current position? How was he commented in the Berlin Summit?
The Berlin Summit held on 29 April was a test and remains a project for stability in Albania and the Balkan region. What was stressed there is the fact that stability will now be promoted through democracy. We will no longer see autocracy being legitimized in the name of stability. Secondly, the Berlin Summit made it very clear that the government results will be the ones to determine the integration path. In this summit, Albania received a negative answer as far as the opening of negotiations is concerned. All of these signals indicate that our integration path is still long. The government should be blamed for this. Political collaboration is very important and the majority has the main responsibility for this. It’s the government who always invites opposition to dialogue.