Beyond a “masquerade ball”

Beyond a “masquerade ball”
This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and

By Alfred Peza

There have been very few attempts, to say the least, to say things as they are in the media and Albanian public opinion about the game of the opposition for the boycott of the June 18 elections. This happens for many reasons: lack of knowledge, lack of will or hypocrisy. Some people don’t understand and don’t even want to understand what truly happens. They don’t understand that a game is being played at the detriment of democracy and at the detriment of all of those who have believed and want to believe on the opposition in Albania.

Beyond all conspiracy theories, assumptions, imaginary local, regional and planetary plots and the endless comments and opinions, the truth of the boycott of elections by the DP is simpler than it looks. It fears the vetting process and reform in justice. This is the problem of the old leadership of this party. Here, I shall stop and analyze a little the reasons of the fears that the new leadership of the right wing opposition has. This also relates to the fear of the electoral confrontation with Albanian voters in the general elections of this year. Two big fears joined in one, which aim at taking us back and stopping us from moving forward in the future.

The decision for the boycott of the elections by the opposition has been taken before the 18 February protest, which culminated with the setting up of the tent in the boulevard. This thesis has been articulated in informal meetings of real players of the Democratic Party, last fall or winter, following the voting in Parliament of the judicial reform. Their reasoning was very simple and clear: this time, however we spin it, the opposition will lose these elections. For many reasons, including the way Rama’s government has functioned and worked, the fact that the DP is aware of the way it has performed along with its allies in the opposition or as a result of the way the democratic cycle has been functioning in the past 20 years in Albania, where each majority has governed two terms in a row.

In the absence of a winning strategy with programs, alternative, causes, normal democratic battles within legitimate institutions and by carrying out an internal reformation to secure as much support as possible within Albania and abroad, Berisha and Basha seem to have chosen a different path. An easier and simpler path, which required less opposition sacrifice to bring back the DP in power. Instead of following the path that every political progressive force in a country with a developing democracy follows, they chose a dark shortcut, which could make their path shorter, but which could lead this country toward a new abyss.

Thus, they elaborated a scenario of the boycott of elections, which aims to deprive half of the Albanian citizens their democratic right to vote. This seems the simplest and shortest way and also the most certain way for the leadership of the Democratic Party to delegitimize the certain victory of the SP and its allies, in order to put the majority and the new government in as much difficulty as possible during the second term in office. This way, they would make sure to damage it as much as possible, in order to make its life shorter and give itself a chance to recover as soon as possible and to have extra guarantees when heading to the next elections that they would return to power again.

They tried to do this during the first 4 year term when they were in opposition, by saying “NO” to every incentive, action, major reform and cooperation for the most ordinary things with the governing majority. They tried to damage the majority through diversion and fluid alliances with different players inside of it. Through an unstoppable propaganda against the government, by slandering in all possible ways about the ministers and their work. During these four years, they tried to use the same strategy against the SP that they used during the first period that they were in opposition from 1997 until 2005, trying to force the Prime Minister to remove successful ministers or less successful ministers with the aim of gradually damaging the government’s structure.

This sort of method worked for them during the first time that they were in opposition. But during the second time, they failed. Some because they were too predictable and because they repeated the only strategy that the opposition seems to know. And some because Edi Rama managed not to make any of the mistakes that his predecessor, Fatos Nano made in front of Berisha and the DP at that time. Nano often didn’t have the patience to cope with the verbal battles in Parliament or their protests on the street. He made the fatal mistake of creating many socialist governments, which led to endless changes of ministers and heads of the constitutional instructions of the country, surrendering with or without reason to the strong pressure of clans or different media groups, with connections to the opposition.

As the years went by, this approach weakened the majority of that time, by helping Berisha and the DP to recover lost ground year after year, until the unbelievable happened: A political force which was ousted with the force of weapons in 1997, came back in power 8 years later, in 2005, through their vote. Today, the opposition, which is playing the same game, has realized that Edi Rama is no longer making the same mistakes like the majority of that time. This is why it is trying to respond to this scheme not through a constructive opposition path, but by choosing to play it to the extreme with the hope that this way, it will be able to damage the left wing majority within a short period of time to the same point it damaged it in the past, in order to make sure it comes back in power in 4 years time and remain in power for 8 years.

The June 18 elections mark the end of this “masquerade ball” that the opposition is trying to play in the name of “free and fair elections” in Albania. Of course, this is not happening and will not happen. Therefore, the damage that the majority may suffer as a result of this game is easy to be calculated now. But it’s up to the Albanian people to soften up the consequences of this dangerous and big game more than the SP and its allies. In spite of the problems during these difficult years of pluralism, Albanian voters have proven that they have been and will be the smarted voters in the world, because what’s at stake in here is not only the political fate of Edi Rama or the left wing, but the European future of Albania and Albanians.

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Note: The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy

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