This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.albanianfreepress.al
By EDUARD ZALOSHNJA
When asked in a TV studio as to what would happen if the international community decided to recognize local elections without the participation of the Democratic Party in them, the vice chairman of this party, Edi Paloka declared that: “If local elections are held without the opposition, then I will leave politics”. In another studio, the other vice chairman of this party, Edmond Spaho clearly announced the goal of the Democratic Party: “There will be no elections in June. International community should prevent this situation from escalating”, he said.
These and other declarations made by opposition officials shape to the opposition’s strategy. Given that Rama and the ruling party are not worried about the opposition’s decision to boycott parliament, then the West should be worried about any form of unrest that may be caused as a result of the opposition’s boycott of June 30 local elections. Based on this logic, civil clashes on voting day between socialist voters and opposition militants, could lead to unrest and a new wave of asylum seekers may invade Europe. And Europe would not want to see this.
Similar to sporting bets, the opposition’s bet has three scenarios and each one of them has its odds.
Scenario A–June 30 will register a few incidents
Despite the opposition’s declarations, the international community does not change its attitude, calling on the local elections to be held on June 30 and for political sides to take part in them. Elections are held on June 30 and socialist candidates face candidates from small parties or independent ones. They win in all municipalities. Despite a few incidents, the West recognizes the elections as being legitimate.
If things go like this, the Democratic Party comes out of the system. Nevertheless, this party will enjoy strong support among its voters. This could pose a serious threat for SMI and other small opposition parties who could lose those few supporters that they have in certain municipalities.
Scenario B–June 30 may register many incidents
Despite the opposition’s declarations, the international community does not change its attitude, calling on the local elections to be held on June 30 and for political sides to take part in them. Elections are held on June 30 and socialist candidates run face candidates from small parties or independent ones. They win in all municipalities. But numerous incidents are registered all over the country. The West does not recognize the elections. If things go like this, then the next two years will be very difficult for Edi Rama and in 2021, it will be very hard for him to take 48% of votes like he managed to do in 2017.
Scenario C–The international community intervenes before election day
To prevent scenario B, the international community may intervene before June 30 and offer a solution which would be acceptable for both sides. It could ask the opposition to take part in the local elections on condition that Rama resigns before the holding of the next general elections. A model similar to the Greek one, where the Supreme Court chief justice is at the helm of a government of technocrats, could also be suggested in this case.
If things go like this, the Socialist Party may once again win the majority of municipalities in the local elections, because the opposition did not make the necessary preparations for them. Nonetheless, the Socialist Party could lose the 2021 general elections. However, experience has shown that political power in Albania changes hands every eight years.
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy