Albania’s Ruling Majority to Hold Major Rally

Albania’s Democratic Party and its government allies are expected to hold a major rally in Tirana on Tuesday, commemorating students’ protest in 1991 that are considered to have been the beginning of the end of the former Stalinist regime.


However, for most local observers the rally is seen as a show of force by Prime Minister Sali Berisha, in response to the opposition protest in late November seeking a partial recount of the ballot of the 28 June parliamentary elections.

The rally comes in a tense political climate, following weeks of personal jibes and accusation of corruption between Berisha and opposition leader Edi Rama.

The two opponents have hurled increasingly harsh insults at each other, accusing the other of homosexuality, domestic violence, insanity and fascism.

Since the new parliament was reinstated in September, the Socialists’ 65 elected deputies have boycotted its sessions, halting the passage of legislation that requires more than a simple majority.

The boycott has poisoned the political climate in Albania and both European and American diplomats have called for a political solution in order not to hamper the country’s reform process, vital for its EU integration.

However, both Berisha and Rama have refused to bulge from their hunkered position, keeping parliamentary life in suspense.

The Socialist and the Democrats, the two main political powerhouses in Albania since the end of the Stalinist regime of former dictator Enver Hoxha in 1991, have a long history of political animosity, usually following disputed electoral processes.

Albania has yet to hold elections which fully respect internationally recognised standards. However the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe that monitored the June polls said the process showed marked progress compared to previous polls, especially in terms of voters registration.

However, the politicization by both the parties of the ballot counting process, which was delayed for days, the use by the government of public employees and resources during the campaign and political pressure on the media by both camps, remained a serious concern to be addressed, the election monitoring body said.

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