03/07/2005 - Results
The coalition led by the Democratic Party (PD) of the former President of the Republic (1992-1997) Sali Berisha, easily won the general elections that took place in Albania on 3rd July last, winning 45% of the vote and taking fifty five of the hundred seats in the Parliament that are attributed by majority vote (the forty others are attributed by proportional vote) versus 30% of the vote and forty two seats for the Socialist Party (PSSH) led by outgoing Prime Minister Fatos Nano. The latter should, if he respects the promise he made during the electoral campaign, leave the political arena. Several of the outgoing government's ministers, including the Foreign Affairs, Interior, Finance, Transport and Agriculture Ministers were beaten during this election. In addition to this the Socialists lost their main constituencies of Tirana and Durres where voters were convinced by the Socialist Movement for Integration (MSI), a party founded just a year ago by former Prime Minister and dissident of the PSSH, Ilir Meta. "Those who vote for Ilir Meta are voting for Sali Berisha," warned Fatos Nano before the elections but the MSI, credited with 8% of the vote managed to erode the Socialists' traditional electorate. The North of the country voted mainly for the Democratic Party; the South, that is closer to the Socialist Party, voted in favour of the party led by Fatos Nano. One thousand two hundred and fifty three candidates from 22 parties and coalitions stood during this election.
"These general elections must confirm society's adoption of European democratic norms. They must be won by Albania and the Albanians more than by the parties. I am calling on all of the political parties to acknowledge the results and not to challenge them. Respecting criteria in electoral terms is more important than the results," declared the President of the Republic Alfred Moisu just a few days before the election. Since the fall of the Communist dictatorship at the start of the 1990's elections in Albania have always been marred by a number of irregularities and violent incidents. In this election more than 6,500 policemen had been affected to the 4,700 polling stations and the army had been called upon to monitor public buildings. The European Union and the USA, via Ambassador Marcie Ries considered the election as a test of "Albania's progress towards integrating the Euro-Atlantic structures." The High Representative for Foreign Affairs for the European Union, Javier Solana, was pleased with the "peaceful manner" in which the general elections took place. "I have seen however that the first reports highlight some irregularities," he emphasised saying that "these must be examined closely and settled in order that they do not occur again in the future."
"The winners are the Albanian voters who voted calmly and who respected the election," declared Ilirian Celibashi, president of the central electoral commission. The latter pointed to some irregularities mainly problems of electoral rolls as well as family votes whereby traditionally the head of the family could vote for his parents. For their part the international observers who were to ensure that the general elections took place peacefully indicated that "overall democratic norms," had been respected. "Some problems were noted however throwing a shadow over the procedure," added the head of the OSCE mission, Jürgen Grunnet. The Council of Europe representative, Moregn Ostengaard, emphasised the "need to continue reform notably those that aim to make electoral rolls more reliable before the next local elections take place." The two main political parties mutually accused each other of being responsible for these incidents. "Sali Berisha violated the norms in these elections," declared Fatos Nano. "Fatos Nano is responsible for an election marred by irregularities," maintained the Secretary General of the Democratic Party, Jozefina Toppalli.
Sali Berisha therefore takes back the power he lost eight year ago after having been driven away after a series of riots when the financial pyramid system collapsed. This system that was encouraged by the President of the Republic offered investments at favourable interest rates reaching 100%. Around 70% of Albanian families had invested their savings. Accused by the Socialists of having "their hands covered in blood" (two thousand people died during the riots in 1997), Sali Berisha maintains that he has changed and is dedicated to erasing the memory of the end of his presidency.
The future Prime Minister, who is 61 years old, is a trained cardiologist and the founder of the Democratic Party. He was at the head of the party that caused the collapse of the Enver Hoxha regime. He was elected President of the Republic in 1992 after his party won the country's first general elections; Sali Berisha ruled Albania with an iron fist. He was against witch hunts but he prosecuted dozens of former Communist leaders for genocide. "I was opposed to the Communist regime because I felt partly responsible for the dictatorship," he declared.
"It is the clean hands policy that has won," declared the future Prime Minister who promised to build a "Social State" by freeing private enterprise. He is considered by all as being "incorruptible" and has promised to solve the problem of corruption within 100 days. "Albania is not the only corrupted country in the world but it is the only one to have made a system of it. I am going to eradicate corruption and help foreign investment by breaking the mafia who work in tandem with the government and who are blocking these investments today," maintained Sali Berisha, openly accusing the outgoing Prime Minister. The leader of the Democratic Party also did not hesitate in declaring, "Fatos Nano is the leader of mafia clans that control the most corrupt government in the Balkans." When asked about how he will fight against the scourge of corruption the future Prime Minister has promised to decrease taxation levels after the first week in power. "I am going to make great cuts in administrative spending, fight against corruption starting with my own government," he maintained. "Together we overthrew tyranny in 1992. The time has now come to fight poverty and cure illness together," he said to his electorate.
Incidentally and contrary to outgoing Prime Minister Fatos Nano, who is concerned with maintaining good relations with all of the leaders in the region and for whom Kosovo was never a priority, Sali Berisha is very much attached to the province's independence, under international protectorate since 1999. His victory should not go without effect on Kosovo in the future.
"We all know very well that Sali Berisha could be very dangerous, but he is probably the only honest person in Albania. People are counting on him to stop corruption. What we need from him is a short term in office," emphasised journalist Mr Lumi. According to a recent UN report one quarter of Albanians live below the poverty line (less than two dollars a day). For World Bank's part it confirms a disastrous economic situation that is even worse than in 1996 and laments the lack of improvement in the fight against corruption and organised crime. Drug trafficking and prostitution are said to provide the various Albanian mafia with nearly twice the State budget (around four billion euros per year).
The new Prime Minister will therefore have but four short years to succeed in the heavy task of bringing Albania into the modern world and towards development. Sali Berisha is in favour of Albania's entry into the EU and NATO.
Results of the general elections in Albania on 3rd July
Participation rate: 56%
Source Albanian Central Electoral Commission