By Roland Qafoku
Lulzim Basha was expelled from Thursday parliamentary session for occupying the podium. It was the first time this was not considered to be “Berisha’s Thursday” and it was the first time that we said that this was “Basha’s Thursday”. The leader of the Democratic Party turned into a cause for concern for the speaker of Parliament, becoming a protagonist not only in blocking the podium, but also through his declarations made outside. These declarations are not at all suitable to the political behavior he has manifested so far. “If we see that the dictatorship regime which prohibited the freedom of thought for 50 years, is restored again in this Parliament, then it's time to say that social peace is at risk and the opposition is entitled and feels obliged to call on Albanians to take Parliament into their own hands. The DP will analyze the situation and it will take a decision. The allies and the citizens will not allow Rama and Ruci take Albania 30 years back”.
Everyone who heard this message being articulated by Basha, can understand that these words were so meaningless for the current political situation and the fact that this conflict is so artificial. And this led to the Assembly’s speaker decision to penalize the leader of the opposition for breach of the rule book.
But what has happened in reality? How is it possible that Lulzim Basha had to wait four weeks to become the real no. 1 of the opposition? The image of him occupying the podium surrounded by the DP’s parliamentary group was a familiar sight of Sali Berisha, but it was never imagined for Lulzim Basha. But, Berisha’s shadow was reduced this Thursday thanks to this decision. There’s no doubt that Lulzim Basha’s biggest problem in these four years as acting chairman is that with Berisha on his side, democrats would always be inspired, unite and would be motivated by the latter and that this would never happen with Basha.
Following the disgraceful defeat in the June elections, Basha has realized that in order for him to be the real leader of the DP, his figure must grow and have personality. Meanwhile, one of his battles has to be the one against Berisha. While speaking in an interview with our colleague, Çim Peka, Berisha said that “Basha’s advisors were miserable”. In fact, he didn’t aim at attacking the advisors, but Basha himself.
But Edi Rama is also giving his personal help. Their agreement of 18 May of this year, seems to culminate on the constant “help” that Rama would give him in case he won the elections. His help would consist on strengthening Basha’s figure and weakening Sali Berisha’s figure. For Rama, Basha is more acceptable as a political figure than anyone else. The Prime Minister is better off facing the “good boy of the DP” rather than Berisha, who has a significant influence among his supporters. And to achieve this, it’s Rama who asks him to create “trouble” in order to make him the first violin in politics and not Berisha. Rama knows that in order to achieve this, Basha must stop being himself, occupy the podium, cause trouble and be expelled. This is the only way he will motivate democrats.
In Albanian politics, every senior leader has faced clashes, accusations, arrests and denigrations. This was how Fatos Nano’s profile was raised immediately after the installment of pluralism. The official of the Marxism-Leninism Institute was considered to be part of the new communist contigent and all of a sudden, he became general secretary of the last governing cabinet of Adil Çarçani. Once Çarçani left office, he became Prime Minister at the age of 38 and it had been a while since Albania had seen such a young prime minister. His departure from this post a few months later saw his election as chairman of the Socialist Party.
But, as soon as the DP came in power, one of its first actions was to arrest Fatos Nano. The charges raised against him are nothing compared to the allegations addressed against politicians in the past 27 years. Prison made Nano a supreme leader within the SP and his only race was against opponents.
But, Sali Berisha too encountered quiet a difficult journey. From the moment he was elected party leader, until the end of his term in office as president, Sali Berisha has been subject to many political attacks and four attempts on his life. But the most difficult time for Berisha was when he went in opposition in 1997, because the number of people supporting him was very small. From this moment, Berisha faced many accusations. His immunity was removed, he was put under surveillance and he was accused of organizing the 14 September armed coup in which he risked life in prison. From 1997 until 2002, it was often said that Berisha’s arrest was a matter of hours, days and months. And in fact, this was achieved in 2000, when he was held for four hours at a police precinct in Tirana. But those who rose back from the ashes, became supreme leaders and the only opponents that Berisha had were his political opponents.
In a way or another, Edi Rama too rose the same way. There was a moment when Fatos Nano and Sali Berisha became his biggest enemies following the deal that they reached on 5 April 2002. Besides this, Rama saw himself in a difficult situation when he had to appear in front of the inquiry committee chaired by Sokol Olldashi.
All three of them, Nano, Berisha and Rama have gone through these obstacles, clashes and battles, threats of arrests and attempts on their life. But will Lulzim Basha be successful if he only plays the good boy? If he doesn’t fight battles inside and outside the DP? If he doesn’t occupy parliament’s podium? If he doesn’t raise his voice and motivate his people? In fact, his battles have just started. Thursday’s session was a prelude of the battles that he should fight in order to be accepted as the true leader inside and outside the DP. One of them who accept him as a leader is Edi Rama. With the May 18 agreement in his mind and knowing this path all too well, Rama is making sure that his rival walks on the path that he dictates him. So, one day, Basha will be described as the “good boy” who started his battles within the DP and then he clashed with the government. And this is how he became a great leader. Rama has his own merit there. Let us wait and see what steps will be taken next.
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy.