Wrong reading of local elections

By Adri Nurellari Amidst the many resemblances between the 2005 parliamentary elections and local government polls of 2007 one can identify the indefinable election results which permit both sides, Left and Right, to claim they have won the majority of

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NATO’s enlargement – no artificial deadlines

By John Colston NATO’s Riga Summit last November sent two clear messages to countries who aspire to join the NATO Alliance: a message of encouragement and support; and a message that NATO’s process of enlargement will continue to be based

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NATO membership requires more than military reforms

By Marcie B. Ries Recently, the United States Embassy in Tirana has become the Point of Contact Embassy for Albania as a NATO aspirant, succeeding the Embassy of Poland. This means that my Embassy is responsible for facilitating contact and

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What Is Nato’s Future?

By Janusz Bugajski Allied capitals are asking important questions about the future of NATO. Above all, is NATO still a vital global player in resolving conflicts and combating regional crises? Or has NATO become a peace keeping and state rebuilding

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The saga of the privatization of Albtelecom

By Alba Cela In the busy economic agenda of the Albanian government one item stands out for the prize of most lingering issue: the privatization of fixed-line monopoly Albtelecom. The telecommunications company owned by the state has been listed for

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A loss that is an opportunity for progress

By ERMAL HASIMJA In July 2005, the Left won more votes numerically than the Right, however, everyone is of the opinion that these elections were won by the Right. On 18 February, both camps tried to convince everyone that they

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The quiet before the next storm: So glad they are “over”

By Alba ȥla The local elections had such a strong grip on everybody’s life in Albania that once done it feels like a heavy weight is lifted from our shoulders. For weeks the news, analysis, comments, predictions, estimates, controversial debates

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From Farce to Tragedy: Sunday’s local elections

Nothing could have been more telling, of the problems that hampered Sunday’s local election, than the image of a frazzled Sali Berisha struggling to work out which box in which to put his voting papers. Amid scores of microphones and

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The Ghosts of Communism

It is clear that Sunday’s local elections are likely to be flawed. Throughout the campaign there have been numerous incidences of irregularities that do not bode well for the integrity of these elections. Take for example, the electoral lists. In

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Kosova’s Final Steps to Independence

By Janusz Bugajski The Ahtisaari plan for Kosova launches the aspiring state on the road to independence and sovereignty. However, statehood will not be obtained overnight. The process will take several months to complete and the Kosovar leadership must remain

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                    [post_content] => By Adri Nurellari
Amidst the many resemblances between the 2005 parliamentary elections and local government polls of 2007 one can identify the indefinable election results which permit both sides, Left and Right, to claim they have won the majority of the votes. In 2005, the Majoritarian electoral system convincingly favored the Democratic Party and the Right, despite the fact that the parties of the Left, altogether, did win far more votes. Something similar appears to be emerging now too, where the Left, via the Majoritarian system has secured the local governance of the majority of the Albanian population, irrespective of the fact that a considerable part of the electorate voted for the parties of the "existing ruling majority" (without saying exclusively "for the Right" as the Environmental Agrarian Party and the Human Rights Union Party cannot be really be considered right wing parties). If it had been a proportional system undoubtedly the victory would have been in the hands of those who won the majority of votes, however, this is the system, it is what it is, and these are the rules of the game.  
In Britain, the Labour Party won 35 per cent of the votes but it secured 55 per cent of the seats in Parliament. In the US Presidential elections of the year 2000, Al Gore won a numerical majority however; the way votes were distributed favored George Bush. Both the Labour Party in the UK and George Bush in the US were considered fully legitimate as winners. If it had been said that the failure to win the majority of the votes jeopardized their legitimacy, this would have been the same as umpiring a game using the rules of another game; like umpiring a game of hand ball using soccer rules, calling a goal scored by hand a foul, which maybe a foul in soccer, but in handball, a goal scored by hand is the only acceptable way to score. 
This means that the claim of the Right to victory in these elections does not stand. However, neither can full claim be laid to the fact that these elections would have had the same result if they had been parliamentary, because in the conditions of parliamentary elections, electoral conduct differs a great deal; the turnout is better, there are fewer candidates with fewer personal networks, not as occurs with local government council members; there is strategic voting, there are alternative agendas to central agendas and so on.
Irrespective of this, the results of the elections yield several trends that leave room to foresee or imagine what may happen in parliamentary elections, if the current government remains in office. Amidst the multitude of features and messages produced by the results of these elections, what stands out is a tendency towards a jolting of the traditional strong holds of different parties. In particular, this is true of the Democratic Party, which, because it is in office, to a certain degree was also being judged. It is obvious that the Right has won in non-traditional rural and southern zones such as Tepelena, Mallakastra. In these outlying zones, the loss incurred by the Left could easily be attributed also to the presence of independent Left wing candidates who split the Left, or to a lack of monitoring that would have secured the discipline of the electoral process, or to the pressure exerted by central government through employment and allocation of funds to local government levels. However, for a moment, let us take for a fact that the Right has seriously won in those zones where the vote has been converted and has fled the Left.
The benefits that emanate from the conversion of this Left wing vote accompanied by the cost of the loss of the votes of the Right should never be considered as a victory of the Right, but as a result of populism. The fact that in the traditional Right wing zones, such as Durr쳬 the majority of the electorate did not turn out to vote, and the Left wins, clearly shows that the victory of the principle cities by the Left does not stem from the brilliance of any left wing models of local government, but from disappointment in the Right. In short, the current Government has had accentuated notes of populism and has absorbed votes of an amorphous electorate. But, in the meantime, it has lost the votes of the Right wing electorate.

Populist efforts to implement a pragmatic policy, without a clear-cut ideological identity, applying a harsh anti-corruption or anti- status-quo rhetoric, may well yield an electoral supremacy of the moment, but in the conditions of Albania, there is no evidence that these efforts are fruitful over a medium-term period. Meandering between right and left policies, from small governments to austere savings policies, from slashing taxes to moral attacks against businessmen in their "gilt edged bath tubs", from the 'Albania-1 Euro' initiative to the lifting of excise duty on diesel oil sold to farmers or the raising of minimal wages, all this, without fail, left a mark on the right wing electorate, who do not feel represented. Not to mention as well the failure to deliver concrete results of the fight against corruption and the flirt with Nano, declaring the anti-corruption allegations that, for many years had mobilized many right wing and/or undecided voters, as merely electoral declarations of no particular weight.
Perhaps for the Democratic Party and its leaders it is acceptable to sacrifice political identity, according to the circumstances of the moment, for the sake of the goal of remaining in office. It is a known fact that political parties in Albania do have an ideological deficiency and function as clientele groups, motivated by gaining state favors, when a party comes to office. This thinking motivates many members and supporters of our parties, and this is why the rational, the pragmatic tactics applied by the leadership of the Democratic Party during the past year, do not de-mobilize the members of the party. In such circumstances it is difficult to believe that the loss of these last elections will bring about any kind of reform or rebellion within the Democratic Party.
However, the decision-makers often confuse militant party members with the supporters of a party, and they treat both categories in the same way, both applying an aggressive,  harsh and militant rhetoric or bending and abandoning right wing political identity without so much as a qualm. They frequently consider politics as a fully rational activity, where voters are merely materialist who push to secure the maximum of their material benefit. This is sufficient to keep the militants committed, luring them with a job, a tender or a "wink of the eye" for a violation of the law, but not the right wing supporters who, without fail, seek a direct benefit. One typical example illustrating this is the legalization process from which many new arrivals directly profited, who, did not necessarily vote for the Democratic Party in the last elections. All the genuine and active members of all the political parties do not make up more than 100.000 persons, while the number of voters exceeds one million. In other words, what motivates those few militants does not necessarily motivate the many, many followers or swinging voters.
Political commitment, in its composition, has a large subjective dose of irrationalism, which means that many voters vote for a given party for the sake of their passions, convictions, stands, identity, ideals or beliefs and not necessarily for direct, material benefit or merely due to force of habit. A good part of the 2005 electorate voted for the Democratic Party and its leader Sali Berisha, because they were regarded as the most worthy representatives of their passion, identity or even of their beliefs, and not merely because they wanted the DP and Berisha to come to office.
Subsequently, the reading of the results of the local government elections should have brought out not only the Government's failure to fulfill tangible promises, or to deliver on individual responsibilities of a handful of "scapegoats" who hardly had the autonomy or the authority to make their own decisions, but, first and foremost, this reading should have highlighted the fact that the Democratic Party has lost contact with the traditional right wing electorate. The decision to merely reshuffle the government cabinet, neglecting any change in the manner of governing itself or steering it onto a clear cut ideological course means simply to externalize the problem, which is far from solving the crisis, on the contrary it deepens the illusion and creates a placebo sensation.  The fact that the first meeting of the Government after the elections adopted typically left wing and populist decisions, such as the decision to raise subsidies for medicines and pay rises for the healthcare workers, undoubtedly indicates that the message of the last elections has not been read properly. If this contact with the right wing electorate is not re-established through coherent right wing policies, the future of the DP is at stake.
In view of the fact that this populist style of government managed, within 18 months, to turn the electorate of important cities such as Tirana, Durr쳬 Kor衬 Elbasan and Lushnja away from the DP, it can be said that if things continue at this rate over the two and a half remaining years of the mandate, it is possible to foresee a veritable disaster in the oncoming political elections of  2009.  At all costs, the loss of the votes of the main cities, must be viewed very accurately and also considered as a forewarning of what will happen in the future with the rural vote too, because it is a known fact that public opinion is formed and structured in the urban environment and then spreads out to and is adopted in the rural zones. It would come as no surprise that at this rate of consumption and abandonment, the worst scenario possible could happen, where the Left wins more than 84 per cent of the seats in the Parliament and this would be a real threat to Albanian democracy, and not just to the Right.
                    [post_title] =>  Wrong reading of local elections 
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                    [post_content] => By John Colston
NATO's Riga Summit last November sent two clear messages to countries who aspire to join the NATO Alliance: a message of encouragement and support; and a message that NATO's process of enlargement will continue to be based on performance.
In their Declaration, NATO leaders welcomed the preparations that the three participants in NATO's Membership Action Plan, including Albania, have made so far. And they commended them for their contributions to international security and to regional cooperation.
In addition, the Alliance leaders stated that, at their Summit meeting in 2008, they intend to extend further invitations to those countries who meet NATO's performance based standards and are able to contribute to Euro-Atlantic security and stability.
What this means is that it is now up to the aspirant nations to demonstrate substantial progress by the time of the Summit in 2008. It also means that the period between now and the next Summit will see an unprecedented degree of scrutiny by the Allies of the performance of the aspirant nations.
Let me be clear: this is not the time to sit back and relax. To the contrary, now is the time to push ahead and continue to make further concrete progress. No decisions have been taken, and decisions will depend on Albania's performance. Allies will expect to see that the process is irreversible. And they will expect to see more than putting in place the necessary legislation - they will be looking for implementation.
As Albania pursues these efforts, the Membership Action Plan should remain its guiding instrument. The MAP enables your country to benefit from NATO's support and guidance in pursuing reforms in key areas; to understand the reforms which NATO itself is undertaking; and to ensure that Albania is well prepared to join the Alliance. Albania should use the Plan vigorously in the key period ahead. And NATO will continue to fully support you in that effort, which is why I and my team are here in Tirana this week.
In the area of defense reform, Albania has made significant progress. It now needs to maintain the momentum and consolidate that progress through sustained political will and financial support. I welcome the Government's commitment to spend 2% of the GDP on defense from 2008 onward: this is essential, but it is also essential to ensure that this money is spent wisely, to produce modern and capable armed forces which serve Albania's interests, contribute to regional security, and reflect your Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
The Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces are on the right course. But it is not only the Ministry of Defense which would be joining NATO, but it is the entire country, with all of its institutions.
NATO Allies today are not bound together by structures or bureaucracies, nor even by a single common threat. What binds the Allies together is first and foremost the common values of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law which they uphold and defend. Allies expect the aspirants to embrace these principles as well.
Albania has made some good progress in this regard. The Riga Declaration welcomed the improved conduct of parliamentary elections in July 2005. While the local elections which took place here on February 18 had some positive aspects - an open debate in the media, high voter turnout, and good standards of policing, we fully share the OSCE observation mission's preliminary assessment that the elections demonstrated a missed opportunity for the political parties to work together to ensure that the elections were conducted to the highest international standards.
It will be essential to strengthen the democratic dialogue between the political parties. Cooperation between government and opposition in implementing reform is a key element for success. I therefore warmly welcome the initiative to hold this workshop today involving the full spectrum of political opinion.
Sustained efforts to combat corruption and organized crime, and ensure judicial reform and the development of the police are also vital. It will be essential to demonstrate concrete results in these areas, which were identified in Riga as priority areas for Albania to address, and which will depend on cross-party cooperation.
Albania's contribution to international security is warmly welcomed by the Allies. In particular, we appreciate your participation in NATO's mission in Afghanistan and, in addition your company to deploy an additional company to Afghanistan, as well as your contribution to the fight against terrorism.
The NATO Allies also appreciate Albania's moderate and constructive stance in regional affairs and we expect you to continue to play this positive role especially as we enter the final stages of a settlement of Kosovo's status. The cooperation you have developed within the Adriatic Charter Initiative is very valuable.
As NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has said on many occasions, Euro-Atlantic integration is the key to ensuring democracy, prosperity, and lasting peace in South East Europe. We are therefore fully committed to continue to assist you and your neighbors on this journey.
NATO's enlargement process has never been driven by artificial deadlines. It was, is, and remains a performance-based process. As I said, there is still work to be done and you can count on the Allies' full support in addressing those issues. An intensified scrutiny on Albania by the Allies will be a natural part of this process.
The timing of the invitation to Albania to join will be a political decision for all the Allies. I cannot say today when that decision may come. But I can say that it will not come without the full commitment of the Government and Parliament alike to delivering progress.
We want you to succeed - and soon. We will help you to succeed, and will support you every step of the way. But your success will depend on your will, your performance. And I wish you every success as you move forward.

Remarks by NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defense Policy and Planning John Colston on March 3, 2007
                    [post_title] =>  NATO's enlargement - no artificial deadlines 
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                    [post_content] => By Marcie B. Ries
Recently, the United States Embassy in Tirana has become the Point of Contact Embassy for Albania as a NATO aspirant, succeeding the Embassy of Poland. This means that my Embassy is responsible for facilitating contact and the flow of information between Albania and NATO Headquarters.
It is in that capacity that I will be introducing our distinguished visitor from Brussels, but first I would like to say a few words.
As the Prime Minister has mentioned, one thing that makes Albania stand out among NATO aspirant countries is the nearly universal support for NATO accession among the public as well as the nation's leaders.
Albania has shown its willingness to contribute to international peace and security by supporting the NATO mission in Afghanistan, participating in the coalition in Iraq, and by being a part of the EU peacekeeping in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Albania plays a responsible, moderating role in its home region. And, it has demonstrated its willingness to work cooperatively with its neighbors through active diplomacy, participation, and leadership in the A3, SEEDM, and other regional initiatives.
The Ministry of Defense and the Albanian Armed Forces are currently engaged in a major reform as part of Albania's efforts to secure an invitation to join the Alliance in 2008.
NATO membership, however, requires more than popular support and military reforms.
Since 1999, Albania, like all NATO aspirants, has had a Membership Action Plan which describes the steps the country must take to meet NATO standards, both military and non-military.
Among them are the strengthening of democratic institutions and the rule of law.
You may ask why membership in a military alliance requires meeting such standards. The answer is that NATO is a community of shared values whose members share a commitment to collectively address issues related to their shared security.
It is important to keep in mind that the reforms - whether for NATO membership or EU membership - are valuable for the society as a whole, for present and future generations.
Good governance, reduction of corruption, tackling organized crime, and strengthening the system of justice benefit all citizens in a democracy.
But success in achievement of these goals requires a national, non-partisan effort among government and the Parliament but also among civil society and normal citizens.
It is appropriate that all of these constituencies are represented here today to discuss specific objectives and ways to achieve them.

* Remarks by Ambassador Marcie B. Ries, NATO Conference in Tirana
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                    [post_date] => 2007-03-02 01:00:00
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                    [post_content] => By Janusz Bugajski
Allied capitals are asking important questions about the future of NATO. Above all, is NATO still a vital global player in resolving conflicts and combating regional crises? Or has NATO become a peace keeping and state rebuilding operation subordinate to U.S global strategy and the national interests of individual members? 
NATO's role no longer revolves around hard security, but it is not exactly soft security, where the European Union claims pre-eminence. Its operations in places such as Afghanistan and Kosova now resemble "medium-soft security" where the "exit strategy" cannot be predicted. 
NATO engages in several missions beyond Europe's borders most of which have little to do with combat operations. Some new members are wondering whether such a role for the Alliance has undermined NATO's capabilities and commitment to article five guarantees.
NATO's changing posture also has important implications for further enlargement. Some analysts charge that enlargement has contributed to transforming the organization from one of mutual military defense to a loose security body with diverse interests and multiple goals. 
Others argue that enlargement has actually helped prolong NATO's lifespan by giving it purpose in absorbing new allies rather than drifting out of business. In this context, policy makers must decide whether the entry of future members will contribute to or detract from NATO's capabilities.
NATO-EU relations also remain a battleground. The overriding question is whether the Alliance and the Union will compete or complement each other in future security challenges. And ultimately, can Europe afford both NATO and the EU's evolving security instruments?
Furthermore, many candidates have viewed NATO entry as a step toward EU membership, but what if the latter process were blocked or indefinitely delayed. Would this constrain support for meeting NATO standards among current aspirants? In reality, Alliance enlargement could become even more urgent to consolidate democratic reform in the absence of EU membership commitments.
Non-NATO capitals can be grouped into four groups: eager (Croatia, Albania, Macedonia, Georgia), interested (Montenegro, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Moldova, Kosova), skeptical (Serbia, Ukraine), and opposed (Belarus, Russia). For smaller democratic countries with a pro-Western consensus, NATO entry is a successful benchmark of national progress, irrespective of NATO's current global role. This is unlikely to change, especially if open door promises continue to be issued by Alliance leaders. 
However, if the NATO door closes, then several capitals could turn neutral and seek to benefit from military modernization without formally joining NATO or undertaking any operational commitments. But such a strategy may not be successful in stabilizing NATO's neighborhood, given that expansion has been one of NATO's most successful political strategies.
If U.S. political and military commitments to NATO were to diminish, the posture of candidates and new members could shift significantly. Many countries view the Alliance as an organization that ensures American engagement in Europe. Their commitments to NATO could dissipate if U.S. withdrawal became evident and they are likely to focus on building stronger bilateral ties with the U.S. instead of investing in NATO.
The Southern Dimension is a probable next step for NATO, with planned invitations for Croatia, Albania, and Macedonia at the next Alliance summit in 2008. There is political consensus and public support in each candidate state for membership and progress has been made in the reform agenda. The U.S. supports their membership as this could also spur the progress of the remaining West Balkan states and close the chapter on Yugoslavia. 
Prospects for a NATO Eastern Dimension, with the entry of Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, are much slimmer, especially as Moscow intends to keep them within its orbit. Indeed, NATO may have outlived one of its core purposes if there comes a time when Moscow genuinely welcomes its further enlargement. This would mean that one of NATO's major successes, in stimulating and ensuring the construction of stable, democratic, and pro-Western state systems in a broader Europe, would no longer be valid.
                    [post_title] =>  What Is Nato's Future? 
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                    [post_content] => By Alba Cela
In the busy economic agenda of the Albanian government one item stands out for the prize of most lingering issue: the privatization of fixed-line monopoly Albtelecom. 
The telecommunications company owned by the state has been listed for sale since 2001. In a legal declaration approved by president Rexhep Mejdani clear rules were set out to give no more 76 percent of the shares to a strategic investor.  The privatization has been problematic from the outset because it was surrounded by political contestations and conspiracy theories about the group of people who would get a generous share of the sale's proceeds depending on the client. The Nano government decided upon the Turkish telecommunications company "Calik Enerji Telekomunikasyon A.S" and was immediately crucified by the opposition. The offer of 120 million euro was not deemed appropriate. An investigation by the well-known auditor Deloitte made it clear that Calik was far from being a strategic investor.  Claims that the company was not only unsuitable but also had corrupted Mr. Nano himself became the signature mark of parliament sessions as well as media declarations.
July 2005 happened and the administration changed hands. On October 13 of 2005 the new government did not approve the sale contract. Soon the issue took an interesting turn of 180 degrees. Moving away from its initial position, the right-wing coalition started again negotiations with Calik. Prime Minister Berisha was photographed in Turkey in September of 2006, smiling much too friendly to the Turks on this issue. The visit of Turkish Foreign Minister Kursat Tuzmen had on its agenda the quickening of the process. 
In the meantime Calik and Turkish Telecom formed a consortium which got closer to the Albanian expectations of a strategic investor, worth the Albanian telecommunications monopoly. Albtelecom instead got involved in scandals about tenders supposed to extend the IP services throughout the country. The open tender was for the purchase of 200.000 ports while the capacity to install is only one fourth of the sum. The Turkish side objects to the tenders being held in the context of the Internet program. 
A parliamentary commission investigating Albtelecom and the IP tenders published a report outlining severe structural problems that eventually lead once again to corruption doubts.
After an impressive display of multiple circular turns and overturns, we are at point zero. The negotiations are frozen once again due to the serious power crisis and the local elections. The Albanian consumer is left wondering at the slow inefficient, clumsy process which has never been transparently outlined to them. And yet the major interest rests with the consumer. A successful privatization of Albtelecom would bring bouquets of benefits to the Albanian breadwinner such as lower prices for fixed line services, a third mobile operator called Eagle Mobile which would definitely cut across the absurd quasi-cartel structure of the foreign-owned mobile operators in the market, qualitative improvements in Internet providing and a realistic upgrading of the general communication system. In the age of information and communications one could never hope for more. 
In the face of the above arguments one cannot help asking why then is this issue postponed? In whose interest is it to keep these much needed improvements from Albania  consumers who are ripped daily by outrageous fees for services which cost half as much in other countries of the world? 
Ten years ago Albtelecom had a profit of 4.5 billion leks. Today despite its structural problems it has a generous bottom line that someone is not willing to let go. Hence, it remains in the hands of the government to take quick and resolute steps in finalizing the sale of this state asset worth no less than 1.2 billion euros that has been lingering for too long. The problem calls directly for more transparency, more efficiency in delivering to the consumer a needed service and for more responsibility on the side of state officials, especially the Ministry of Telecommunications, under whose jurisdiction the issue falls.
                    [post_title] =>  The saga of the privatization of Albtelecom 
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                    [post_date] => 2007-02-24 01:00:00
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                    [post_content] => By ERMAL HASIMJA
In July 2005, the Left won more votes numerically than the Right, however, everyone is of the opinion that these elections were won by the Right. On 18 February, both camps tried to convince everyone that they had both won, from their own viewpoints; however, everyone feels that the Right lost. What defines loss? Not merely numbers. The loss of the Right, last Sunday, can't be measured in figures. The symbol of this loss is the rupture in the Right, first of all in Tirana, but also in Durr쳬 Elbasan and Kor衮 It is the legitimate right of the Right wing forces to interpret the results of 18 February as they wish, even as a historical victory. We could even rest assured that those who organized the botched part related to the content of the campaign of the DP would find commiseration in blaming the very confused structures of the DP, the traditional socialist mobilization, ignorance or impatience of the voters and the misunderstanding of their devotion and endless other non-existent reasons of this kind. I find it difficult to imagine that those persons in charge of the DP campaign, who, usually are never on the podiums and don't hold official posts, would come out and admit their responsibility. The misfortune of the DP and of Berisha is that after so many years, he has not been able to comprehend the consequences of such a catastrophic conception that is made of the electorate and politics. In contrast, all we have to remember is the most perfect moment of communication Berisha had in the 2005 campaign, the speech he delivered at the Assembly of the DP. Why? Because in this speech, the candidate for PM, Berisha, did not waste a single word on attacking his opponent, Nano, but drew the image of a visionary leader, for whom the major priorities are the urgent requirements of the voters and not the condemnation or diabolical depiction of his opponent. I an sure that it is more than obvious that this speech was not drafted by the persons who organized the 18 February DP campaign!
The DP targets a general electorate, using far reaching means that are utilized by 2-3 newspapers which only address a very narrow category of voters. How can you claim to convince voters who speak thousands of different political languages, if you are going to address them with the language you have used for years to hypnotize an insignificant group of nondescript militants? The DP should have grasped, at least from the polls and surveys run that the popularity of the politicians is directly dependent on their abilities to produce a language of compromise, consensus and tolerance, a language that seeks to convince the voters that his alternative is the best, and not a language that strives to convince the voters that the opponent does not deserve to be in politics, but in prison or a Mental Home.   For as much as morale is distinct from politics, the campaign of the DP should have been built on better alternatives, not on conflicting exclusion of the other alternative, irrespective of the fact that for many voters (including some of those who voted Left), the Left wing alternative was less convincing. 
But, nonetheless, the right wing elite and its leadership have benefited two exceptionally important things in this election: first of all they gained the respect of the citizens for the organization of the most free and fair elections since 1994 and secondly, the possibility to comprehend how political stands and speech should not be constructed. But, whilst the first can be easily and legitimately grasped, the same cannot be said for the second.  The stand the Majority continues to maintain exceeds the boundaries of the motivation of militants or commissioners. This stand could be the a symptom of a misread of what happened. The Right did not merely lose the majority of the votes, but it also lost about 15 per cent of the votes of the fluid electorate which was the foundations of its 3 July 2005 electorate. It did not lose abstract voters, but it lost voters of the most right wing zones in Albania, in Tirana, in Durres, Korca or Elbasan.  The fact that a part of the communes, strongholds of the socialists, voted Right testifies to a dramatic trend of the transformation of the democrat electorate. This reveals above everything that whether or not the Right remains in office depends on the amorphous electorate which could be Right or Left, in other words, nothing. In other words this is an electorate that resembles the quicksand on the Atlantic coastline.  This is not the right ground on which to construct a coherent right wing policy. The Majority is far more dependent on the post-18 February electorate than it has ever been before, and chiefly, this is an electorate with leanings and demands that are not Right.
The most negative effect that the 18 February vote may have on the Ruling Majority will not be the loss of the major municipalities, but a total misread of the reasons for losing. He ones who are responsible for the disastrous campaign of the DP are going to do their best to prevent the leadership of the DP from comprehending the message, because this message would expel them from the game. Berisha has the opportunity and the possibility of understanding this message himself, without mediation and with every lucidity. On 18 February, the electorate expressed their stand in the most spectacular manner possible. The general elections of 2009 will not be able to serve as a message any longer; they will either be a evaluation of the proper reading of the message of 18 February, or a declaration of the termination of a contract. In the weeks to come, we will have the chance to observe whether or not the ruling majority has accepted the meaning of Sunday's vote, or whether it has hidden its head in the sand like an ostrich. One element will be visible if there is a change of political ratios within the Majority.  The change of several Ministers could perhaps bring about positive improvements for the Right. However, it would be a mistake to think that this would be the solution of the problem. The problem does not lie in the Government, but in the way the government operates. The Ruling Majority would have to courageously and honestly confront fundamental problems such as wasting all that energy to build up a policy of exclusion toward the opponent, in the face of the urgent need to confront economic challenges, the disappointment of the former land owners, the stressful climate created for a part of the businesses operating in the country and naturally the transformation of the traditionally right wing electorate. These are only a few of the challenges. The voters of 18 February are no different from those of 3 July. In the first case, they voted against the feudal socialist model of government, while in the second case, they revealed that they had not merely used their vote to punish the socialists, but also the hope of an effective government. This government must be based on an analysis of the loss in Tirana, Durr쳬 Kor衠or Elbasan.
                    [post_title] =>  A loss that is an opportunity for progress  
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                    [post_content] => By Alba ȥla
The local elections had such a strong grip on everybody's life in Albania that once done it feels like a heavy weight is lifted from our shoulders. For weeks the news, analysis, comments, predictions, estimates, controversial debates monopolized the plethora of televisions. I did not dare to switch on the television for fear that some wildly hypnotized politician would step out of the screen as in a horror movie. My favorite serial shows were substituted by non-stop talk shows examining in detail over and over again the minute features of every possible scenario and commenting on everything about the candidates from their personal record to their hair color. The closer we got to the elections the uglier the battle became. Personal photos of the Tirana mayor that should have never been published froze the attention of all age spans. Secret CIA reports were published that showed to the people how their minister was implicated in crime. Was this real? How are we to see these people after this battle? Will we forget everything that was shown under the wise mantra of our most populist politicians "Do not confuse truth with electoral truth"?
Election Day was naturally the apex of this process. Reporters and analysts with heavy insomniatic eyes were glued once again to the screen wishing for every potential miracle to get them the results as fast a possible so that they could feed their own interpretation to the public. Dazzled by an eventual fear and the news that the ink was not working, Albanians waited in line to vote in front of slow-motion commissioners in order to cast their token of political freedom.   A white night followed with confusing exit polls and marginal Cassandra voices predicting Apocalypse. Most of the people woke up in order to get started on a new work week. Hopefully free from the overwhelming posters that marked the landscape, free from the electoral noises and songs filling the streets, disrupting their thought process. The entire campaign seemed to be led in this direction: Look, listen, don't think! Emblazoned with scandalous claims and respective accusations, devoid of substance of projects, of concrete plans, a campaign of militants for militants. Hence, aggressive like a grip in the throat. I am under no illusion that is over. Contestations of the results started even before February 18, 6pm, the official closing time of the ballots. The incidents that characterized that day, though not major, will be subject of debates and conflicts yet to come. The televisions will continue to reflect, highlight and eventually worsen every controversy. The newspapers will still fill their front pages with photos of the runners for weeks to come.  Nevertheless, there is an air of liberation. The posters look defeated and out of place. They have finally lost the glorious importance of visual manipulation. The song that was blasted from all cars claiming back a lost city weeps in silence.  Another storm is in the making. The SP leader has often mentioned the preparations for elections if the opposition wins the majority of the national vote this time. Albania has yet to agree on how it will elect the next President. A peaceful settlement like that of 2003 seems unlikely with the heightened tones of hostility between the two sides and the fragmentation of the opposition. The latter though in a coalition is under the perpetual threat of l'enfant terrible, Fatos Nano. 
But until then there is a temporal calm. Thus enjoy it before this one is over too. I for once am glad that the elections are over. 
                    [post_title] =>  The quiet before the next storm: So glad they are "over" 
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                    [post_content] => Nothing could have been more telling, of the problems that hampered Sunday's local election, than the image of a frazzled Sali Berisha struggling to work out which box in which to put his voting papers. Amid scores of microphones and television cameras, Berisha attempted to look triumphant as he placed his vote, while an official desperately tried to prevent him from putting it in the wrong box. Like a kind of slap-stick humour, Berisha smiled, looked confused, moved to the next box, smiled again, looked confused again, moved again etc, until finally he managed to get them in the right ones. It was an impression that characterised the events that were to unfold throughout the day. 
My own experience of the poll largely consisted of accompanying my husband and mother-in-law as they cast their votes in a primary school in Myslym Shyri in the late morning. As we made our way up there, the streets were notably quiet as they continued to be throughout the day. Once at the polling room, and poking my nose inside, I was immediately struck by what had so confused Berisha earlier in the day. Examples of the four voting papers were pasted on the wall above their respective boxes. They could hardly have been more similar in colour; of the four, three looked to me like two shades of green and one more reddish green. And it wasn't just me. As I watched the voters move from the booths to the voting boxes, confusion spread across their faces. A rather frazzled official then tried to assist with colour recognition as people lunged towards the incorrect box. It would be interesting to know just how many votes were cast in error.
The process in the booth was unbelievably sluggish. With only two voting boxes available, the line moved excruciatingly slowly, and we were there at least 45 minutes despite the fact that we were fifth in line when we arrived. Problems with the voters' lists also slowed down the process. In some areas the lists didn't arrive until late in the morning and in others there were errors in the lists themselves. Berisha was not the only high-profile voter who encountered difficulties on the day. LSI leader, Ilir Meta, was also faced with confusion when he turned up to vote, in front of the cameras, and his name could not be found on the list in his district.
In terms of the wait, we certainly did better than most. When we returned home later in the day, there were three booths in our small street with a crowd outside each. The placing of these booths was also somewhat bizarre; one was in an empty shop, one in an internet caf顡nd the other in the bar at the corner. Given the small size of the shop and the internet caf鬠the bulk of those waiting had to do so outside. It was hardly the sign of a well thought out voting process.
The lines near our apartment lines were moving no faster - and indeed, probably more slowly - than those we had encountered earlier in the day.  Each time I checked outside the window, it seemed that it was largely the same people crowded around the doorway. While they closed sometime after 7pm, more than an hour after the designated closing time, it is unlikely many of those waiting were able to vote. As we saw on reports on television throughout the day, people in some areas of the country had been waiting for up to four hours to vote. 
Despite the long waits, however, the fact that some voting centres were closed while so many people were still voting was wrong. Although this happened quite some time after the 6pm closing time, the majority of those voting had been waiting from well beyond that time, given the delays the process had already encountered. It was an error of the process, not the electors, so the process should have been adapted to the wishes of the latter. 
This is not to say that there weren't valid concerns about the legality of some of those votes placed later in the day. Numerous reports have emerged in the weeks leading up to the elections of fake birth certificates circulating that would be used as identification by voters on Sunday in order to vote twice. The concern that there was straightforward vote rigging going on was heightened by the footage of a rather guilty-looking Deputy Minister of Interior, Ferdinand Poni  - the person responsible for the election process - in a private kancellari, with a swathe of official looking documents, busy photocopying them.
The danger of vote rigging was exacerbated during the day by the reports that the ink being used with which to indelibly mark voters' thumbs could be washed off immediately with a bit of raki. A friend of mine showed me his completely clean thumb just a couple of hours after he had voted. The possibility of double-voting was therefore made even more likely. This 'fly-by-night' ink was another in the series of those euphemistically termed 'irregularities' that occurred on the day.
Then the counting startedŠand stoppedŠand started againŠand stopped againŠTensions rose, confusion spread, and annoyance and irritation turned to anger. The coverage by very late evening was showing lots of shouting, pushing and shoving in various voting centres around the country. By Monday it was the dramatic scenes of a fight in a voting centre in Gjirokaster that were dominating the news of the counting process. The tensions over the counting process - that is still not finished even as I write on Thursday morning - culminated in the violent episode in Ndroq, outside Tirana, that left one commissioner fighting for his life in hospital on Wednesday night. 
From Berisha's attempt to vote in the morning - as farce - the seriously defective process ended in tragedy.
These may have been the 'most expensive' elections in post-communist Albania, as Berisha declared somewhat disingenuously on Sunday, but they were certainly not 'the best ever organised' ones that he also claimed them to be. Having witnessed the state election in 2005, which of course had its own difficulties, it was clear that Sunday's attempt had gone considerably more awry. It is sad to see the country take this step backwards, when it so desperately needs to take one in the other direction.
                    [post_title] =>  From Farce to Tragedy: Sunday's local elections 
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                    [post_content] => It is clear that Sunday's local elections are likely to be flawed. Throughout the campaign there have been numerous incidences of irregularities that do not bode well for the integrity of these elections. 
Take for example, the electoral lists. In one incident last week, it was reported that some 47000 people were registered twice on the voting lists. That is likely to be simply the tip of the iceberg, however, when it comes to these lists that have been so rife for manipulation in every election in Albania in recent years. Albanians still lack the clear and accurate residential records that would allow the post to arrive effectively, let alone guaranteeing the accuracy of the electoral voters' lists. And it doesn't seem as though much has been done to rectify that situation in the lead up to these elections, as little was done in the lead up to the national elections last July. 
Then there are the birth certificates that people use for identification purposes on polling day. In a move the government claimed would simply make it easier to acquire a birth certificate, the application procedures were significantly loosened a few weeks ago, creating the potential for even more 'irregularities' come election day. Previously it was possible to acquire a certificate for someone else, provided one was in possession of their passport. The passport photo could then be checked with the photo to be placed on the certificate. Having removed the requirement to have photo identification when applying for a certificate, the government has created the possibility for people to acquire a number of certificates with the same photo but different names. There are already reports of people with numerous certificates around Tirana. 
In both of these examples of flawed democratic processes - the voters lists and the birth certificates - there is a degree of straightforward lack of competence on behalf of the authorities in charge, mixed with the potential for outright manipulation. At the same time, these two examples are symptoms of the larger issues that Albania faces on its road to better democratic processes. These issues have to do with notions of democratic citizenship that may or not take hold in Albanian politics and society. 
Of these notions is the right to choose to participate, or more importantly not to participate, in party politics. It was a characteristic of the countries of Eastern Europe during the communist period that political participation was enforced. Whether it be May Day parades or Party Congresses, in an authoritarian context people were obliged to not only turn up but to cheer for whatever cause or person was being paraded. In other words, these activities involved not only forced presence but forced exuberance. In the main, people participated as such out of fear of the consequences, and of course at that time the consequences could be dire indeed. 
Despite the fact that it is now 16 years since the end of communism in Albania, it seems as though these practices have continued. I was concerned to discover from two friends of recent instances during the election campaign in which they or members of their families have been forced to attend political rallies in much the same way as occurred before. On both of these occasions, ministerial employees - from directors to administrators - were required to leave their work and attend a political rally. In the process, whole government buildings were emptied of their employees who went to fill up the hall of a conference room to cheer an election candidate or a member of his party in front of the media. And there was little choice in the matter. It was made clear to those who present that to refuse to attend would be a direct threat to their job security. In a context in which there is little by way of job security in any case, government employees are easily manipulated: a situation that is obviously being exploited by those in power.
Once employees had arrived at these rallies, the only admissible behavior was to smile and clap. One friend who found herself involved in this process told me of her concern at having been seen by one of her directors to be laughing at the ridiculousness of the spectacle in which she was involved, who responded by glaring in her direction. In other words, the demands on her behavior, and her fear of the results of not behaving in the correct fashion, were palpable. Inappropriate behavior would be noted and there would be consequences. The parallel to the communist period is obviously clear and highly disturbing. 
This parallel is heightened by the reports in various newspapers of children being taken out of their regular classes to attend rallies. Although one report in Gazeta Shqiptare pointed to this use of children in Democratic Party rallies, it is unlikely that it is only occurring on that side of politics. Footage shown on Fixs Fare last week of Edi Rama on the hustings, showed him surrounded by school-age children at a time in which they clearly should have been in school. 
On Sunday, all eyes will be on the electoral process itself and the degree to which that process is flawed. But it is important to remember the wider context in which this flawed process is occurring: one in which broader democratic processes and concepts of citizens' rights are evidently struggling to take root in Albanian politics. Without those broader concepts and processes - such as one's right to choose not to participate in party politics and keep one's job - it is unlikely any election in Albania, now or in the future, will adhere to the forms of transparency and fairness necessary to consider it truly democratic.
                    [post_title] =>  The Ghosts of Communism 
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                    [post_content] => By Janusz Bugajski
The Ahtisaari plan for Kosova launches the aspiring state on the road to independence and sovereignty. However, statehood will not be obtained overnight. The process will take several months to complete and the Kosovar leadership must remain patient, consistent, and determined on the road to the final destination.
The Ahtisaari plan effectively removes all Serbian jurisdiction over Kosova, terminates the UNMIK mandate, establishes a provisional European Union and NATO supervisory mission, and legitimizes Kosova's steps toward statehood. The latter will be strengthened through the passage of a Kosovar constitution, the creation of state symbols, and Prishtina availing itself of the right to join international organizations including the UN.
Ahtisaari and all members of the Contact Group, except Russia, are determined to maintain a tight timetable with regard to the status decisions. They will therefore not tolerate obstruction and boycotts by Serbian officials with whom much of Europe and America are fast losing patience.
The next steps for Kosova envisage a series of discussions on the Ahtisaari plan between political leaders from Prishtina and Belgrade. These are to take place in Vienna by the end of February. There will be no acceptance of major changes but some adjustments and compromises will be pursued especially regarding the rights of the Serbian minority in Kosova.
Sometime in March, the finalized document will be presented to the UN Security Council for approval and for the passage of a new resolution. Washington and the EU capitals are calculating that despite its tough rhetoric in support of Belgrade, the Russian regime is likely to abstain rather than veto a UN resolution. 
The UN statement is likely to be neutral, neither recognizing nor forbidding Kosova's independence and sovereignty. It would thereby allow Prishtina to declare independence and petition for recognition from individual governments.
Thus far, the reactions of the Kosova leadership has been measured and sensible. Above all, the population of Kosova must avoid any instability and violence as this would play directly into the hands of Belgrade. One major reason why the Serbian government has tried to delay the status process is to provoke an Albanian overreaction that would allegedly prove that Kosova is not prepared for independence.
Serbian government reactions to the Ahtisaari plan have been confused and fearful. While President Boris Tadic at least displayed the courage to meet with Ahtisaari and reject the proposal, outgoing Prim Minister Vojislav Kostunica remains in a state of psychological denial. 
Kostunica's party has even made it a condition for forming a new government that the coalition break off relations with any state recognizing Kosova. Kostunica's infantile and isolationist reaction indicates that Serbia's real national interests take second place to Serbia's mythic interests.
In reality, the Serbian population in Kosova has probably gained more than any other small minority in Europe from the status process. 5% of the citizenry will benefit from extensive decentralization and self-government, disproportionate representation in the national parliament, close ties with Serbia, and far-reaching cultural and religious protection supervised by the international community.
Regional reactions to Kosova's coming independence will place Serbia in an even more difficult position, especially if Belgrade is serious in severing official ties. Albania will undoubtedly recognize the new state, Macedonia has expressed its acceptance of the Ahtisaari plan and Bulgaria is likely to follow suit. Montenegro and Bosnia-Hercegovina are unlikely to object as each is seeking progress toward EU entry. Serbia may be left far behind the integration and growth process if it isolates itself from the region.
If officials in Belgrade simply cannot accept having any role in Kosova's independence, maybe the best solution is not to have a functioning government while statehood is gained. In this way, it can be claimed that noone will be held responsible in Serbian historiography. Again, this may be another myth. In reality, all high officials will be held responsible for delaying the inevitable and thereby obstructing Serbia's integration in the European mainstream.
                    [post_title] =>  Kosova's Final Steps to Independence 
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            [post_date] => 2007-03-09 01:00:00
            [post_date_gmt] => 2007-03-09 01:00:00
            [post_content] => By Adri Nurellari
Amidst the many resemblances between the 2005 parliamentary elections and local government polls of 2007 one can identify the indefinable election results which permit both sides, Left and Right, to claim they have won the majority of the votes. In 2005, the Majoritarian electoral system convincingly favored the Democratic Party and the Right, despite the fact that the parties of the Left, altogether, did win far more votes. Something similar appears to be emerging now too, where the Left, via the Majoritarian system has secured the local governance of the majority of the Albanian population, irrespective of the fact that a considerable part of the electorate voted for the parties of the "existing ruling majority" (without saying exclusively "for the Right" as the Environmental Agrarian Party and the Human Rights Union Party cannot be really be considered right wing parties). If it had been a proportional system undoubtedly the victory would have been in the hands of those who won the majority of votes, however, this is the system, it is what it is, and these are the rules of the game.  
In Britain, the Labour Party won 35 per cent of the votes but it secured 55 per cent of the seats in Parliament. In the US Presidential elections of the year 2000, Al Gore won a numerical majority however; the way votes were distributed favored George Bush. Both the Labour Party in the UK and George Bush in the US were considered fully legitimate as winners. If it had been said that the failure to win the majority of the votes jeopardized their legitimacy, this would have been the same as umpiring a game using the rules of another game; like umpiring a game of hand ball using soccer rules, calling a goal scored by hand a foul, which maybe a foul in soccer, but in handball, a goal scored by hand is the only acceptable way to score. 
This means that the claim of the Right to victory in these elections does not stand. However, neither can full claim be laid to the fact that these elections would have had the same result if they had been parliamentary, because in the conditions of parliamentary elections, electoral conduct differs a great deal; the turnout is better, there are fewer candidates with fewer personal networks, not as occurs with local government council members; there is strategic voting, there are alternative agendas to central agendas and so on.
Irrespective of this, the results of the elections yield several trends that leave room to foresee or imagine what may happen in parliamentary elections, if the current government remains in office. Amidst the multitude of features and messages produced by the results of these elections, what stands out is a tendency towards a jolting of the traditional strong holds of different parties. In particular, this is true of the Democratic Party, which, because it is in office, to a certain degree was also being judged. It is obvious that the Right has won in non-traditional rural and southern zones such as Tepelena, Mallakastra. In these outlying zones, the loss incurred by the Left could easily be attributed also to the presence of independent Left wing candidates who split the Left, or to a lack of monitoring that would have secured the discipline of the electoral process, or to the pressure exerted by central government through employment and allocation of funds to local government levels. However, for a moment, let us take for a fact that the Right has seriously won in those zones where the vote has been converted and has fled the Left.
The benefits that emanate from the conversion of this Left wing vote accompanied by the cost of the loss of the votes of the Right should never be considered as a victory of the Right, but as a result of populism. The fact that in the traditional Right wing zones, such as Durr쳬 the majority of the electorate did not turn out to vote, and the Left wins, clearly shows that the victory of the principle cities by the Left does not stem from the brilliance of any left wing models of local government, but from disappointment in the Right. In short, the current Government has had accentuated notes of populism and has absorbed votes of an amorphous electorate. But, in the meantime, it has lost the votes of the Right wing electorate.

Populist efforts to implement a pragmatic policy, without a clear-cut ideological identity, applying a harsh anti-corruption or anti- status-quo rhetoric, may well yield an electoral supremacy of the moment, but in the conditions of Albania, there is no evidence that these efforts are fruitful over a medium-term period. Meandering between right and left policies, from small governments to austere savings policies, from slashing taxes to moral attacks against businessmen in their "gilt edged bath tubs", from the 'Albania-1 Euro' initiative to the lifting of excise duty on diesel oil sold to farmers or the raising of minimal wages, all this, without fail, left a mark on the right wing electorate, who do not feel represented. Not to mention as well the failure to deliver concrete results of the fight against corruption and the flirt with Nano, declaring the anti-corruption allegations that, for many years had mobilized many right wing and/or undecided voters, as merely electoral declarations of no particular weight.
Perhaps for the Democratic Party and its leaders it is acceptable to sacrifice political identity, according to the circumstances of the moment, for the sake of the goal of remaining in office. It is a known fact that political parties in Albania do have an ideological deficiency and function as clientele groups, motivated by gaining state favors, when a party comes to office. This thinking motivates many members and supporters of our parties, and this is why the rational, the pragmatic tactics applied by the leadership of the Democratic Party during the past year, do not de-mobilize the members of the party. In such circumstances it is difficult to believe that the loss of these last elections will bring about any kind of reform or rebellion within the Democratic Party.
However, the decision-makers often confuse militant party members with the supporters of a party, and they treat both categories in the same way, both applying an aggressive,  harsh and militant rhetoric or bending and abandoning right wing political identity without so much as a qualm. They frequently consider politics as a fully rational activity, where voters are merely materialist who push to secure the maximum of their material benefit. This is sufficient to keep the militants committed, luring them with a job, a tender or a "wink of the eye" for a violation of the law, but not the right wing supporters who, without fail, seek a direct benefit. One typical example illustrating this is the legalization process from which many new arrivals directly profited, who, did not necessarily vote for the Democratic Party in the last elections. All the genuine and active members of all the political parties do not make up more than 100.000 persons, while the number of voters exceeds one million. In other words, what motivates those few militants does not necessarily motivate the many, many followers or swinging voters.
Political commitment, in its composition, has a large subjective dose of irrationalism, which means that many voters vote for a given party for the sake of their passions, convictions, stands, identity, ideals or beliefs and not necessarily for direct, material benefit or merely due to force of habit. A good part of the 2005 electorate voted for the Democratic Party and its leader Sali Berisha, because they were regarded as the most worthy representatives of their passion, identity or even of their beliefs, and not merely because they wanted the DP and Berisha to come to office.
Subsequently, the reading of the results of the local government elections should have brought out not only the Government's failure to fulfill tangible promises, or to deliver on individual responsibilities of a handful of "scapegoats" who hardly had the autonomy or the authority to make their own decisions, but, first and foremost, this reading should have highlighted the fact that the Democratic Party has lost contact with the traditional right wing electorate. The decision to merely reshuffle the government cabinet, neglecting any change in the manner of governing itself or steering it onto a clear cut ideological course means simply to externalize the problem, which is far from solving the crisis, on the contrary it deepens the illusion and creates a placebo sensation.  The fact that the first meeting of the Government after the elections adopted typically left wing and populist decisions, such as the decision to raise subsidies for medicines and pay rises for the healthcare workers, undoubtedly indicates that the message of the last elections has not been read properly. If this contact with the right wing electorate is not re-established through coherent right wing policies, the future of the DP is at stake.
In view of the fact that this populist style of government managed, within 18 months, to turn the electorate of important cities such as Tirana, Durr쳬 Kor衬 Elbasan and Lushnja away from the DP, it can be said that if things continue at this rate over the two and a half remaining years of the mandate, it is possible to foresee a veritable disaster in the oncoming political elections of  2009.  At all costs, the loss of the votes of the main cities, must be viewed very accurately and also considered as a forewarning of what will happen in the future with the rural vote too, because it is a known fact that public opinion is formed and structured in the urban environment and then spreads out to and is adopted in the rural zones. It would come as no surprise that at this rate of consumption and abandonment, the worst scenario possible could happen, where the Left wins more than 84 per cent of the seats in the Parliament and this would be a real threat to Albanian democracy, and not just to the Right.
            [post_title] =>  Wrong reading of local elections 
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