From Vancouver to Vladivostok -the perilous direction of the Albanian democracy slide

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 30, 2020 14:56

From Vancouver to Vladivostok -the perilous direction of the Albanian democracy slide

In one of the heaviest sessions of the Albanian parliament, the past meddled into the present with all its heavy baggage of polarization, aggressive name-calling and utilization of history. Three decades after the fall of the communist regime, various MPs and the Prime Minister shouted across the hall of the Albanian parliament to each other “communist!” and “ballist!” (Member of the National Front, the opposition right wing force to the communists during WWII). 

The subject of the matter were the constitutional changes heralded at the very last moment from the majority, after the inclusive agreement was reached on June 5 to ensure the participation of all political parties in the next elections. These changes will pave the way to open the candidates’ list of the parties and get rid of coalitions, under the motto “one program, one team.” Parties will have to coalesce by generating a single competing list that adheres to one political program.  

Most importantly they will most likely iron-clad the victory of the Socialist Party and give Rama his third mandate. By preventing a potential coalition between the Democratic Party and the Socialist Movement for Integration and other parties, Rama knows he eliminates the biggest danger to his chances.  

The Prime Minister framed his entire discussion around the story of the World War II when according to him the left was on the right side of history and the right wing movements “did not fire a shot” and went on “stealing hens.” The strengthening of the stereotypes of the class-war and the repetition of the rhetoric of “enemies, traitors and saboteurs” is deplorable and dangerous. However, the attack on democratic principles and constitutional sanctity is even more perilous.

The Prime Minister took pride in repeating several times that the current Albanian system, is nowhere to be seen “from Vancouver to Vladivostok, all over the OSCE states, where more than 1 billion people live.” Despite the grand terms, the reality is stark and is staring us at the face: this constitutional changes defy both the sanctity of the constitution by being put in place by an illegitimate parliament and the democratic rules of the game by being done without consent and with urgency less than one year before the elections!

There are multiple hypocrisies in these arguments that serve as veneer to cover up a simple attempt to predetermine the electoral outcome. 

First the sovereign argument that bypasses the international community’s arbitration that led to the agreement of June 5 is ridiculous. A country which has always depended on international help to mitigate its crises and which has left to an international mission to redesign its current justice system, which routinely accepts political agreements in a English including June 5th, is suddenly woken up to the prospects of self-determination. 

Let us not forget what is at stake here: the participation of all real stakeholders in the next elections, a normal electoral process that is recognized afterwards and does not produce more boycotts and standoffs. 

Put all these ingredients in the context of a delegitimized parliament, composed with all sorts of charlatans, and what you get is a looming disaster. This parliament cannot and should not change the rules of the game. Albeit this is exactly what was done today!

When all is considered, the phrase is going to seem ironic at best. Albania is indeed sliding dangerously away from the aspired “Vancouver” or western standard into the darkest “Vladivostok” polar nights of authoritarianism.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 30, 2020 14:56