OP-ED/The opposition’s forgotten battles

OP-ED/The opposition’s forgotten battles

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

By Plator Nesturi

Although there’s an ongoing battle which is focusing on the issue of the national theater and the new bill concerning the theater, it looks like the opposition is unable to come up with other causes. It must also be said that the opposition has forgotten the battles that it has launched a while ago. Up until a few weeks ago, the opposition was targeting the interior ministers, however, this also seems to be a forgotten battle.  If the opposition manages to force one of the most important ministers of the governing cabinet to resign, this would be considered a big success for it, even more so when the battle also relates to the traffic of drugs, a topic which also concerns the international community.  However, the opposition is exposing its weaknesses.  At first glance, the DP is proving to be aggressive, but this is it. It doesn’t dare to go any further, even less, to demand snap polls. At least, it knows its problems and weaknesses. On the other hand, it hasn’t even made the smallest effort to prepare the new legal electoral framework.

Today’s political war is focusing on other issues, leaving cannabis behind and passing on to the issue concerning the theater. But this does not seem a very good cause for the opposition to put pressure on the government, which doesn’t seem to fear anything for the next four years.  At the start of the new term in office, the opposition had built another strategy concerning its action: the electoral reform and a new law on avoiding and discouraging the theft of votes or the deformation of results. In fact, the common denominator of the normality of each election in the past is that none of them has been certified as democratic by the international community. But, besides this, another common denominator of electoral processes relates to another unprecedented fact: we have never seen people who have participated in electoral rigging end up behind bars. This way, problems and the thefts have been carried forward from one election to another and this make the solution to this even more difficult.

This is one of the main tasks which needs to be addressed until next year when local government elections take place. This will also be one of the most monitored processes which will serve to the opening of EU accession talks.

It looks like this battle of the opposition has been totally forgotten now.  Judging by the current situation, an electoral reform achieved through the consensus of all sides, may produce an opposite effect.  The opposition will try to block it in order to keep political motivation high. Instead of creating the necessary conditions for a sustainable solution which would give way to free elections, which would at least be acceptable for everyone, the opposition continues with its methods of tension. The worst thing in all of this is that tension is turning into an unchanging electoral scheme, where manipulation has remained the ultimate scope and where nothing changes now and in the future. It seems that the opposition fears the term elections and voting.

Besides electronic voting, the vote of migrant workers has also been introduced as part of the debates on the elections. In these debates, the political class says that it aims free and honest elections, but, behind the scenes, its exponents take make sure they create the necessary structures which enable deviations from the actual result. So, they are aiming at offering standards, but also to include fraud and illegal structures inside of it with the ultimate goal of denying people the right of vote. The permanent repetition of this scheme, while no administrative and legal measures against these violations are taken, seems like an attempt which has been accepted in silence by the political class to rig the voting process. However, this cohabitation between the legitimate and illegitimate which is accompanying electoral process in Albania, is making us a hopeless case in the eyes of the international community. Is this a lack of democratic maturity among Albanians who don’t know how to hold elections, a thesis which is also being amplified by circles abroad, or should the country’s political class be blamed for it? This electoral mess that we’re witnessing should not penalize the country in the process of European integration.

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