Albania’s Democrats Risk Split in Berisha-Basha Showdown

Political veteran Sali Berisha will bid to take back control of the opposition Democrats on Saturday, but in doing so he risks splitting the party in two.
Tirana’s 22,500-seat ‘Air Albania’ stadium will host a grudge match on Saturday, but there won’t be a football in sight.

Instead, a 77-year-old former president and prime minister will make his play to wrest back control of the party he founded in 1991 from his 47-year-old successor as party leader.

Saturday’s event – and a rival congress a week later – marks the culmination of an unsightly three-month tug-of-war over the leadership of the opposition Democratic Party.

In one corner stands Berisha, a fixture of Albanian politics since the collapse of communism three decades ago, and in the other Lulzim Basha, the man Berisha promoted through the party ranks and to whom he eventually handed the party reins in 2013.

Basha suspended Berisha from the party’s parliamentary group on the eve of parliament’s first sitting in September following an April general election that the Democrats lost to the ruling Socialists for the third time in a row.

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