This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.albanianfreepress.al
By Plator Nesturi
Situation escalated yesterday in Parliament. Once again we saw irrationality surface and a chaotic situation. For years now, Albanian politicians have been behaving and fighting with each other like kindergarten children. Yesterday’s session comes after last week opposition’s decision to boycott proceedings and hold protests in several roads of the country against the introduction of the toll charge in the Nation’s Road. Despite the protest, the reasons and the true approach of the opposition concerning the problem in Kukes, it was a move which shows that it was ready to be on the side of the people. A move which the opposition did not make when it came to other issues, such as the case concerning oilmen, or the people who protested against the landfills. Meanwhile, the opposition decided to attend yesterday’s parliamentary session, but, while everyone was expecting to see a confrontation of arguments and a political debate on what is happening today in the country, the situation took a different turn.
A lot has been said about the idea of a possible scenario being prepared. The media was very worried about the possible scenario of the opposition in Parliament. But, opposition is made through strategies and not scenarios. The opposition needs to address problems and not orchestrate scenes. What’s more, every instant action that oppositions in the country have launched throughout the years in this country, have failed and have not been remembered for a very long time. Flour, eggs and water was launched yesterday in parliament. However, debate was what we did not see.
According to the opposition, the aim was to prevent Rama from leaving parliament, because he had insulted Albanians two weeks ago with the language that he had used. According to the right wing, this action is an escalation of the protest. This is a little hard to be swallowed, because Rama would still be the Prime Minister of the Albanian people even after he had left parliament with flour all over him. Of those Albanian people for which the opposition says that it has joined its protest. Of those Albanian people who pay taxes, who are not happy with many things in this country and who, when they decide to express their anger, they do not throw snowballs and they do not need some politicians who are nothing else but wranglers and who do not fight with debates and arguments to uphold the interests of society.
It looks as if there are two different agendas as far as protests are concerned. On one hand, we have common people who are protesting for their rights and on the other, we have the opposition looking to orchestrate scenarios. They look very distant from each other and it seems like the little confidence that the opposition inspires, will continue for a long time, because it does not address the essence of the problem.
The discontent about the economy, voiced by different social categories has been present for some time now, but the opposition has not been able to see it or identify it as part of its actions.
While we’re at the issue of taxes, it’s been months now that there’s been widespread of discontent among citizens, small businesses, farmers and self-employed, because tax increases have led to an aggravated situation and that everything is becoming hard to be afforded. It’s true that the state is sustained through taxes, but when they are irrational and they suffocate business activity, they block incentives and economic development. Even more, when taxes are combined with a high level of fines,situation with businesses becomes even more suffocated. The head of the American Chamber of Commerce said that frequent tax changes cause hardship for businesses. This way, there’s no fiscal stability and in these conditions, foreign businesses may choose to leave the country. To compare Albania with other countries of the region, the head of the American Chamber of Commerce said that Macedonia is a country with sustainable fiscal stability, thus guaranteeing foreign investments in the best way possible.
So, it is clear that something is not right and that things should have been different,despite the rhetoric that we hear that the state is being strengthened, that there’s no state without taxes and that although we’re suffering from these austere measures, this is being done for our own good. We all want to have a state and order, we all want to be a developed country and feel like Europeans, but when we have nothing to put on the table for our children, then authorities are incapable of containing this outburst. The case of Kukes was a clear example for this, because that was the place where poverty was felt the most, along with the lack of investments, growth of unemployment and the growth of the number of people seeking asylum abroad. Thus, a road tax that penalizes them in a more direct manner than the others would lead to an explosive reaction.
So far, this situation is not at all a positive one and the government should back off a little, unless it wants to suffer repercussions. But, after everything that went on, we hear the opposition launching an incentive for civil disobedience, then it’s clear that there is something wrong. It’s true that this civil reaction has come first of all as a result of the tax and the difficulties that exist, but it it’s also a protest against the entire political class throughout the years. Thus, an opposition which so far has shown that people do not have confidence in it, must first of all grasp the true message of this discontent. It needs to say “mea culpa” for all of its failures during the years that it has been in power and opposition, by admitting a part of the responsibility for this miserable situation, the failures of the institutions and hybrid democracy. Inviting people to civil disobedience is a way to overthrow Rama through protests and to seize power. But, what’s the point to this if things are handled the same and if this political party does not focus on the way problems are solved, but focuses instead on the way power is seized? Power cannot be seized through scenarios.
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy