After her meeting with PM Rama, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini declared that “parliamentary boycott means blocking the vetting process and de facto, this stops Albania’s EU integration path”. Thus, she put pressure on the opposition to return to parliament and vote the vetting committees.
But after the meeting that Mogherini had with Lulzim Basha, the latter declared that without an interim government, the opposition cannot come back to parliament. The logic behind Basha’s stoic reaction against Mogherini’s pressure is simple: If Rama wants Albania’s European integration, then let him accept the opposition’s demand for an interim government. Thus, the opposition may return to parliament to vote the vetting committees.
In fact, Rama would accept this condition imposed by the opposition if something important happened; if SP, SMI and PJIU entered a pre election coalition together. If this happens, Rama-Meta-Idrizi trio would win the elections not only if they are overseen by an interim government, but even if they are overseen by a Swiss government. The only thing that remained to be seen would be the scale of this victory.
Thus, the parties that are currently in opposition have registered their best score in the past two decades in the 2009 elections, when they received 740 thousand ballots. Meanwhile, current majority parties scored their best result four years ago when they received 1 million and 50 thousand ballots. Two years ago, the opposition got 620 thousand ballots and the majority got 1 million ballots. An opinion poll that I carried out at the beginning of February, indicated that the opposition would win 640 thousand ballots and the majority would win 995 thousand ballots (see chart 1). Also, an electronic opinion poll which has been recently conducted in the recent days by Questia.al, indicated that only 30% of voters from the age of 18 to the age of 64 supported the oppositions request for a technical government (see chart 2)
Such electoral advantage would make any Prime Minister ready to accept an interim government which would organize the elections and this would also make him provoke early elections (if they were not close), to reconfirm the majority and show the opposition that its protests are only supported by a minority of voters.
But the problem is that this electoral advantage only exists on paper, because in reality, God knows if this coalition will enter the elections with the current configuration.
But let us go back to the 2015 local government elections, when SMI candidates lost in Lezha, Pogradec and Ballsh (thanks to a low turnout of left wing voters). After these elections, Luan Rama of SMI, publicly accused the SP’s local leaders of bargaining. Then, the situation became tenser between the two parties when Rama approached his new ally Idrizi (who had been elected as a democrat MP, but who joined the left wing by taking with him all his party’s MPs).
On the other hand, Idrizi has launched signals that he doesn’t like to be in a coalition with Meta. He accused the latter, almost openly (without mentioning his name), that “he’s flirting with the Greeks in order to reduce the size of PJIU”.
In front of this unclear situation as to the continuity of the current coalition until the elections, Rama doesn’t have the political luxury of forming an interim government. If he accepted the demand for an interim government and then, SMI would leave the coalition on 1 April (four years to the day since the signature of the cooperation agreement with the SP), Rama would enter the elections in a position of weakness. In this case, he would bear the cost of the stigma of a Prime Minister forced to resign by the opposition and he would be abandoned by his biggest ally, who won 180 thousand ballots four years ago and 260 thousand ballots two years ago.
In other words, if Rama accepted an interim government before April 1, he would make a political suicide. Let us wait what happens until 18 April, when coalitions become official…
*The opinion of the author doesn’t necessarily represent IBNA’s editorial line