OP-ED/Race for MPs and the disappearance of small parties

OP-ED/Race for MPs and the disappearance of small parties

This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.afp.al

By Plator Nesturi

It has been a while since we had not seen MPs moving from one political force to another. Recently, PDIU’s MP for the constituency of Dibra declared that she would join the ranks of the majority in parliament and increase the number of seats for the Socialist Party, although this does not make a very big difference about the result that socialists achieved in the last general election. With the 74 seats that he won, Edi Rama not only won his bet of forming a government on his own, without the need to forge coalition, but he also exceeded all expectations about the fragility of his government. The gravity of this victory was also great, not only because the 43 seats obtained by the DP widened the gap with a historical opponent, but also because the SMI could do nothing with its 19 seats besides joining the opposition and ponder on strategies for opposition making. The gravity of the SP’s victory was reflected since the very beginning when Tom Doshi, who had won under PSD’s logo, declared that he would join his vote with the majority. And the new PDIU MP, Reme Lala, who has now joined the socialist parliamentary group, had also been casting her vote in support of the government. We can now say that two political parties who managed to win seats in the last general election, PSD and PDIU, are no longer represented in parliament today, because even Elbasan’s MP does not see herself as part of PDIU, but as an independent MP.

The disappearance of small parties who managed to win seats in the last parliamentary elections is the last phenomenon produced by the final result of the elections, although the final effect was felt a year later. In fact, this had started for a while now and didn’t even give a chance to the political party who ran these MPs in these constituencies, to enjoy the victory.

It is not yet known how the other two MPs who have won in Elbasan will react, but in case they decide to join the majority, then the figures will change. The new majority will have 78 seats and this is a significant number which is usually achieved through a coalition agreement.

The disappearance of the small parties will make the wish expressed by PM Rama during the election campaign come true. However, the bipartisan system is still far. Now, Albania has three political realities. SP, DP and SMI have a total of 136 seats in a 140 seat parliament. Thus, they have exclusivity in all future battles that may take place. Can there be new moves within the ranks of the opposition to join the majority? There doesn’t seem to be a clear unity between DP and SMI and there have also been cases when MPs of these parties have not always followed the party line. There has also been criticism about the way the party leadership is acting and the way opposition is being made.

Despite the fact that small parties such as PR, LZHK, PDK and PBDNJ will continue to be inside the list of the Democratic Party for quite some time, in reality, the fact that they cannot fight real battles under their flag and not under the DP flag, has penalized them a lot in their future. By securing a winning spot on the list, they have only secured a seat and nothing more. And this could suggest that some of them may even follow different political lines in the future with the aim of securing parliamentary survival. Therefore, surprises are still to come.

Up until now, there’s been an ongoing battle for local councils. The SP has promoted these moves not only to secure majorities in local councils in order to vote in favor of its projects, but also to use them for political blackmail. The Socialist Party for Integration is the party which has suffered the most from this “smuggling” of council representatives who have joined the ranks of the Socialist Party. But will there also be MPs who will change their party seats? Chances are that this may actually happen. And this may include those who are politically loyal, those who see this as the only chance to remain in politics or even those who feel threatened by a possible indictment as a result of a file that the prosecution may hold against them.

The race has begun. Although the disappearance of small political parties has not yet turned the country into a bipartisan system between SP-DP, it’s still hard to make a prediction for the future of SMI. Will it endure? Will it shrink or will it ultimately disappear? Nevertheless, one thing is certain: Rama and Basha would not want to have it around.

Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy