By Eduard Zaloshnja
“In order to discover the roots of today’s gigantic tent in front of the Council of Ministers’ building, perhaps we should go to Çorovoda, where in September 2015, Ilir Meta delivered a speech in front of his fervent supporters
A quarter of a century ago, when Berisha came to power for the first time, he didn’t need the help of Ilir Meta. After he had successfully prevailed in every challenge within the DP (first against Gramoz Pashko and then against Neritan Ceka), he put himself at the forefront (without initiating it) of a gigantic anti-system wave (which included the National Front and Legality Movement who were slaughtered by the communist regime and repented communists). That anti-system wave awarded Berisha a majority consisting of 2/3 of the Parliament of Albania. After the 1997 disaster, Berisha had to remain in opposition for 8 years. He could have remained there 16 years, had a tectonic chasm in the opponent camp not happened. Before the 2001 elections, Fatos Nano publicly declared that Ilir Meta would be the socialist Prime Minister for the next four years.
But a year later, during the famous meeting of the SP’s steering committee, he attacked Meta and his ministers. A year or so later, Nano declared that Meta’s SMI was insignificant compared to the Socialist Party. But, that “insignificant” party won 10.5% of the ballots in 2005, causing Nano to lose and bringing back Berisha to power. Berisha’s coalition won only 41% of the ballots in 2005 (the other right wing coalition, that of Leka Zogu won 4%). Had it not been for the massive leakage of votes from SP to SMI, Berisha could only dream of coming in power, in spite of his promises that he was going to govern with clean hands. Ilir Meta joined the left wing camp in 2007, awarding Rama a spectacular victory in Tirana with 20 thousand votes ahead of his rival (that year, SMI won 19 thousand votes in Tirana).
But, after the changes in the election code made by Rama in cooperation with Berisha, Meta left the left wing camp for the second time, as he felt threatened by the new electoral system. And Berisha was once again assisted by the divisions within the left wing. His coalition won only 47% of the votes on a national level in 2009, but he secured 50% of the seats in parliament. With the help of 4 SMI MPs, Berisha managed to hold on to power for another four years, only to lose it in a spectacular way in 2013, when SMI joined the left wing camp again… Let us come back to the present days… In order to discover the roots of today’s gigantic tent in front of the Council of Ministers’ building, perhaps we should go to Çorovoda, where in September 2015, Ilir Meta delivered a speech in front of his fervent supporters. In the months that preceded that speech, Basha and the people around him had constantly demanded Meta’s resignation due to the CEZ-DIA affair. Meta issued a sarcastic reply from Çorovoda, saying that all opposition parties in the world would demand the resignation of the Prime Minister and not the resignation of the Speaker of Parliament. “I wouldn’t be surprised”, Meta said, “if tomorrow they say that Rama-Basha opposition is being suppressed by MetaMeta majority…” Then, he sent out a public message for Berisha: “The Doctor knows that I’m a highlander, like him, and when we say ‘yes’, we mean it”.
Immediately after Meta’s speech, Berisha attacked Rama (on Facebook) without mentioning Meta at all. And from that day onwards, Basha and his entourage have never again attacked Meta publicly. Perhaps, we may never know what Meta intended with that “yes” articulated in Çorovoda. But the recent developments show that the idea of a technical government that he suggested last July, has been launched by Berisha today in the tent in front of the Council of Ministers. Perhaps, the messages and the meetings that Meta has had with the leaders of the small opposition parties (Dule, Ndoka, Duka, etc) warn the start of a coalition of the “center”, led by Meta.
If this was the meaning of the “yes” that Meta sent out for the Doctor at that time, then in the coming elections we may have a race with three main coalitions, a coalition led by the SP, one by DP and one by SMI. And if Meta manages to secure the parliamentary votes for a technical government before the elections (through the prosecution attacking the majority’s mandates), in all likelihood, Berisha will once again come back to power with Meta’s help, regardless of who the post of the Prime Minister goes to. Otherwise, Berisha will have to stay in opposition another few years to come…
* The opinion of the author doesn’t necessarily represent IBNA’s editorial line