Albania’s election – Edi’s turn

from The Economist..

June 29, 2013 | TIRANA | From the print edition

THE next prime minister of Albania will be Edi Rama, leader of the Socialist Party. With almost all the votes counted after voting took place on June 23rd, his coalition looks likely to take 84 out of 140 seats in parliament—a landslide. The result ends eight years of rule by Sali Berisha’s centre-right Democratic Party, but Mr Berisha has been around much longer than that. No Albanian under 30 can remember a time when he was not a dominant political presence.

Mr Rama is a former mayor of the capital, Tirana. In the 2009 election he accused the Democrats of cheating him of victory. In 2011 he claimed to have won a new term as mayor, but the Democrats snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by adding in votes cast in the wrong boxes. A protest in January of the same year led to four Socialist supporters being shot dead by security forces firing from the prime minister’s office. Mr Berisha accused Mr Rama of trying to oust him by force.

In the past few years under Mr Berisha, spanking new roads and other infrastructure have sprouted across Albania…

Yet improved infrastructure could not save Mr Berisha. Besides the fatigue after eight years, a string of scandals undid him.


The election opens the way for Albania to become an official candidate to join the European Union. Previous applications had been rejected. Yet growth and employment are still big challenges, even if less than in some neighbouring countries. The electoral roll has 3.3m names, but the 2011 census found only 2.8m people in Albania. The difference is that as many as a million Albanians live abroad, sending money home and helping to keep down unemployment—which, despite this, still stands at 12.8%. In recent years remittances have declined, but Albania remains the only Balkan country not to have gone into recession. That did not save Mr Berisha, either.

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