Op-Ed/The four year duel between Edi Rama and Lulzim Basha

Op-Ed/The four year duel between Edi Rama and Lulzim Basha

By Roland Qafoku

After both starting their career as members of the Democratic Party, both have served as ministers and mayors of Tirana. After serving as mayors, both of them became leaders of the largest parties in the country, SP and DP, replacing the historical leaders of these two parties, Fatos Nano and Sali Berisha. And both of them have played sports. Soon, it will be four years that Edi Rama and Lulzim Basha are fighting the biggest political battles in the country: Edi Rama as Prime Minister and Lulzim Basha as leader of opposition. The first one is 53, the latter is 43. Both of them, who are considered the most senior representatives of the youngest post communist generation, have the destiny of Albania in their hands.

But how have they fought this battle and who has won it? And what’s more important, have Rama and Basha brought a new way of making politics in contrast to the big battles fought by Sali Berisha and Fatos Nano?

  1. It’s hard to say that Edi Rama and Lulzim Basha have introduced a modern way of making politics and another language just because they replaced Fatos Nano and Sali Berisha.

Although Edi Rama promised this when he became head of the government and Lulzim Basha promised this when he became leader of opposition, both of them have acted like their predecessors. To illustrate this, we can mention the fact that both “western and visionary” leaders, they have only met once on 6 June 2016, three years after the first one was elected PM and the second one chairman of DP. Was the first meeting between Fatos Nano and Sali Berisha in 2002 not considered a big event?

  1. In these four years, Edi Rama and Lulzim Basha have not trusted each other. This is an old tradition of Albanian politics, which has started with Zogu and Noli and still continues with the two leaders of our time.
  2. As Prime Minister, Edi Rama didn’t offer to the opposition what he demanded when he was in opposition. With his famous expression “what you have seen so far is nothing compared to what you are going to see”, the concept of the period Nano-Berisha didn’t change a bit. Of course, Berisha arrested Nano when he was president and Nano was head of opposition and even if Rama wanted such thing, he could not be able to achieve it, but blocking the city hall’s budget when Basha was mayor amounted to almost the same thing.
  3. But Lulzim Basha didn’t make any big changes in the opposition either. During the opposition’s protest in the boulevard, he even launched a message of violence.
  4. Edi Rama and Lulzim Basha are responsible for the fragile political situation in the country and the traditional stances of the two parties, SP and DP as sworn enemies. In every declaration, televised debate or parliamentary session, representatives of these two parties behave like enemies and not like political opponents.
  5. Although the communist system fell 27 years ago, transition continues and nobody can say that Albania has overcome the emergency phase of democracy. Although we are NATO members and EU candidates, the political class in Albania continues to behave in an immature way and always like a country in transition. And the people which must be blamed for this are Rama and Basha.
  6. International community must deal even with the smallest political situation that Edi Rama and Lulzim Basha create. This has happened during Berisha’s time, Nano’s time and now during Rama and Basha’s time. Our political leaders are capable of solving nothing on their own without the international referees. All of this shows how Edi Rama and Lulzim Basha are descendants of the old political leaders and have changed very little, if not at all from them. Their modern style is just to keep up appearances and their mentality is far from what we believed the two new leaders would have.

* The opinion of the author doesn’t necessarily represent IBNA’s editorial line