Maverick MP quits Socialist Party over waste imports

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times October 5, 2016 15:58

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  • Ben Blushi, long-time critic of Rama, expected to lead new party

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Ben Blushi

Ben Blushi

TIRANA, Oct. 2 - Ben Blushi, a long-serving MP and former minister who has been highly critical of Prime Minister Edi Rama's leadership, has announced he is leaving the party.

He said he made the decision after his fellow Socialist MPs voted on a waste import law "following the orders of the prime minister" and "without caring what was wrong or right."

Blushi, an author and former journalist, announced his resignation in an open letter published by the daily Panorama newspaper, in which he expressed anger with the Socialist-led government's approval of a law that makes it possible for Albania to  import waste, which the government says will be limited to products that can be recycled.

Blushi sought a vote to take over as Socialist Party leader last year, but he was sidelined by Rama supporters and the internal election  never took place, replaced with a poll whether a vote should be held at all, which Rama won.

"It is not unexpected that all of those who voted to eliminate the possibility of elections inside the party, favored waste imports into Albania. I have no hope left, ever since they decided to eliminate competition within the party and elect the party leader as if it was a controversial waste proposal," Blushi said in his letter.

In his remarks, Blushi also compared the country's parties to garbage bins and said that the parliament could easily be described as "an irreversible non-recyclable madhouse."

Blushi, who has been an outspoken critic of the political class in Albania, said the major political parties had shown their true identities in the waste import vote.

"The Socialists voted in favor, although they voted against the same bill in 2013. The Democrats voted against it after voting in its favor in 2011. Socialist Movement for Integration voted in favor of waste imports after accepting the initiative in 2011 and refused it in 2013. That is why, what we call a parliament, in any other world country would be described as an irreversible non-recyclable madhouse" Blushi said.

He added: "Nothing clean will come out of this electoral garbage bin. It can be recycled but will never be cleaned. That is why I decided to walk out, because I understood what some people already know: In Albania, you have to clean up the parties in order to clean up the rubbish dumps."

Since the Socialist Party won the elections and entered a coalition with the Socialist Movement for Integration, Blushi has continuously criticized Prime Minister Rama of undermining the party's internal democracy.

Blushi accused Rama of masterminding and violating the party bylaws to not having internal party elections in order remain as party leader and not face direct competition by rivals.

Blushi also said the Socialist Party leadership was terrorizing MPs that supported him, by threatening them with the firing of relatives from state and other positions.

In regards to the country's economic performance, Blushi was critical to the government of not being able to guarantee higher wages, higher pensions and cheaper prices and highlighted how both Socialist Party and Democratic Party are serving the rich and not the more vulnerable parts of society.

He also warned the establishment of a new political movement but no concrete plans have been announced yet.

Nevertheless, there are some Socialist Party MPs who could join Blushi and walk out such as Mimoza Hafizi, another outspoken critic of Rama's government.

Earlier this year, Hafizi and Blushi launched an initiative of their own calling for additional amendments to the Constitution that would allow the election of the country's President directly by the people.

Blushi and Hafizi's official initiative was backed up by 10 other members of parliament from the left and the right of the isle.

Blushi joined the Socialist Party in 1997 and from 2001 to 2002 served as Education Minister. From 2002 to 2005, he was Minister of Local Government in the cabinet of former Prime Minister Fatos Nano.




Tirana Times
By Tirana Times October 5, 2016 15:58