Albanian Opposition's Struggle to Present a Viable Alternative to Rama

2 Mars 2024, 23:31Op-Ed TemA

By Desada Metaj

Disappointment surfaces whenever there's talk of "unity" among opposition factions, adding another layer of sadness for those who believe Prime Minister Edi Rama's tenure has overstayed its welcome.

In the 2021 elections, amidst claims that the opposition stood united and could unseat Rama, a segment of Albanian society, discerning enough to see beyond the façade of electoral campaigns, remained sceptical. They abstained from voting for the change they desired.

The desired change, eagerly awaited and still pursued today, wasn't seen as a viable option offered by the opposition in 2021, despite attempts to promote unity in the name of change. This is because many citizens who didn't necessarily support the opposition's alternative in 2021 cannot be fooled by calls for unity alone. They expect a convincing, sincere, and morally upright alternative, something Albania still lacks. This has been and continues to be the greatest challenge for any political force aiming to challenge Rama's authority.

Observing the events following the 2021 elections, such as Sali Berisha being designated persona non grata by the U.S. State Department and the further splintering of the Democratic Party (DP), all the factions, now openly displaying their old fears, advocate for uniting the democrats. They claim this is the key to defeating Edi Rama.

Intentionally or not, proponents of all opposition factions evade a significant truth: they lack an alternative appealing to citizens beyond traditional DP voters, who are crucial to defeating Rama in elections.

Instead of presenting coherent ideas, the opposition resembles a disorganized mob, starting with rallying under Berisha’s balcony and ending with futile acts like smoke bombs in the parliamentary chamber.

Many Democratic Party deputies, torn between Berisha’s orchestrated support and the ineptitude of the official party, opt to “unite” with Berisha's faction. This is hailed as a triumph, with promises of imminent victory against Rama, amplified through loud propaganda.

As a matter of fact, we're just a few weeks away from the launch of the 2025 election campaign, and the Albanian opposition is more chaotic, disorganized, and divided than ever before. In a span of just over two years, Democratic Party factions have split, engaged in bitter conflicts, and then hastily reunited under the banner of opposing Rama. Their internal discord has reached such levels that Rama no longer need to resort to his usual humour or irony to emphasize their disarray.

As the 2025 elections approach, opposition factions are putting aside their past conflicts, violence, insults, and slanders, opting instead for a facade of “unity” as if it were a path to certain victory.

Those who were once ousted from their party roles by Sali Berisha just two years ago, accused of being loyal to Lulzim Basha, are now being reinstated to those very positions by Berisha himself. Meanwhile, those who previously staunchly opposed Berisha's policies, viewing him as the main barrier to their success, now praise him as the leader who will guide them to electoral triumph.

It is true that their “unity” may help them gain more votes from Democratic Party supporters, potentially securing some parliamentary seats once again. However, it's also clear that some will remain politically sidelined, possibly relegated to media roles like reading the morning news on TV. Furthermore, it is evident that mere factional unity won't magically transform them into a viable alternative for Albanian citizens who prefer independent thinking over political allegiance.

It is certain that Sali Berisha will use and discard these deputies, as he has done over the past 30 years, likely extending one final favour to Lulzim Basha. He'll seek revenge and demonstrate that, for him, there are no permanent enemies—only traitors and loyalists who may return as soldiers in an army not aimed at war, but at skirmishes against the government. Yet, in these battles, Rama consistently emerges victorious, while opposition members often gain personal benefits from the government.

The opposition cannot be likened to supermarkets that re-label expired goods to sell them again. Such tactics may deceive party loyalists momentarily, but they will never lead to victory.

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