Tirana, the Stalingrad of the DP-SMI coalition

Tirana, the Stalingrad of the DP-SMI coalition

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

By Eduard Zaloshnja

Following a year of daily offensives against the Soviet government center, Moscow, World War II German strategists decided to lead their forces toward Stalingrad, a strategic point in southern Russia. The taking of this city would lead to the taking of Moscow, which had not fallen despite direct attacks launched against this city. This strategy was the best one in those circumstances, in spite of the fact that German forces could not take Stalingrad. It was a bloody battle on both sides, but Russians won it and this gave way to victory in the war.

The Albanian opposition is in a similar situation today, although the circumstances are different. Despite the daily attacks launched by DP and SMI officials against the central government, it looks like the latter is not going to fall as a result of these attacks. But, in the next nine months, they have an opportunity to hold the battle for the municipality of Tirana. If they win this battle, this will lead the way toward taking the central government.

By concentrating in the battle of Tirana, the opposition seems to have chosen the most rational strategy, but this doesn’t mean that victory is a sure thing.

It’s true that in last year’s parliamentary elections, the Socialist Party only won 51% of the votes in the municipality of Tirana, but 49% of the votes were won by 16 political parties which had a different political agenda. So, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party won 28% of the votes in the municipality of Tirana, the Socialist Movement for Integration obtained 13% of the votes, PDIU obtained 3%,  LIBRA obtained 3% and other parties obtained 2% of the votes.

In order for the opposition’s strategy for the victory in Tirana to be a successful one, it should convince all those people who voted last year for DP and SMI (but also for PDIU, LIBRA and other small parties) to vote for the joint opposition candidate. However, even this would not be enough.

The strategy and the candidate selected by the DP and SMI should also attract those who did not participate in last year’s elections. Last year, the DP was 30 thousand votes short in comparison to the number of voted obtained by its candidate for the mayor of Tirana (Halim Kosova) in the 2015 elections.

By adding up the 88 thousand votes that the DP and RP obtained last year in the municipality of Tirana, the 42 thousand votes obtained by SMI, the 25 thousand votes obtained by other small parties and the 30 thousand votes that the opposition would have obtained had these voters decided to participate in the elections, we could say that the opposition’s candidate could obtain around 185 thousand votes. Meanwhile, in general, the socialist candidate obtains around 165 thousand votes (this was the number of votes obtained by the SP last year, which raced on its own against everyone).

Of course, calculations made on paper are easier than the battle on the ground. While the opposition’s candidate has the potential to obtain 185 thousand votes, his opponent and his electoral team will try to make sure that many of them do not vote or vote for him. To achieve this goal, he could attack the opposition’s candidate by targeting his weakest points. Given that his party controls the central government, he could use this to convince as many opposition voters as possible to desert.

Given the difficulties mentioned above, besides their daily battles, the opposition should also think strategically about the elections of Tirana. They should not do this relying on suppositions; they should do this by relying on the surveys. By following this strategy, opposition leaders could learn the best strategy needed for the victory of Tirana.

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