Five dramatic messages Albanian voters gave to the opposition

16 Maj 2023, 00:38Op-Ed Mero Baze

Through a massive political vote, Albanians have trusted the local governments across the country to the Socialist Party in what appears to be a major and pitiless blow against Sali Berisha and Ilir Meta as well as their desire to hold the opposition hostage.

Even though most of the Socialist candidates were really promising, the electoral success has included almost all candidates because voters have politically aligned themselves against the opposition. On the other hand, the opposition has won only in a few small and remote municipalities where the influence of the specific candidates plays a bigger role than political ideas.

At the end of the 2023 local elections there are several dramatic statistics that need to be read carefully by those who wish to be part of the opposition. Until the moment of writing this article, Albanians have trusted the opposition to govern 50 thousand citizens, whereas they have trusted the Socialist majority to govern 2 750 000 people.

The difference in numbers is quite dramatic. In other words, Albanians did not trust the opposition to govern even 1.8 percent of the citizens, thus devaluing them not only as a political formation, but also as part of the political infrastructure in the country. If we were to add to this the fact that the opposition has won mainly in remote municipalities, it becomes obvious that lucid citizens in bigger cities have refused what the opposition had to offer in these elections.

The second statistic is that, from the three partners in the opposition’s coalition, Vangjel Dule has reached 33 percent of his objective since his candidates ran for three municipalities and won in one of them. Ilir Meta has achieved 25 percent of his objective as he won one out of four municipalities. Sali Berisha on the other hand has achieved only 5.5 percent of his objective, since his candidates ran for 54 municipalities and won only 3 of them. Therefore, Berisha appears to have achieved the worst result within the opposition coalition.

The third statistic has to do with the society’s reaction against racism. The Socialists’ massive electoral success in Northern Albania followed Berisha’s racist campaign. Realizing his hopelessness, Berisha started to blow the trumpets of divisiveness and hatred between Northern and Southern Albania. However, the response of Albanian voters is a historic message that makes proud every Albanian citizen regarding the ability that our society has to react against racism and hateful rhetoric in politics.

The fourth statistic has to do with the integrity of elections in areas of Greek minority in Albania. The opposition’s candidate for the municipality of Himara, Fredi Beleri, was arrested two days prior to the elections day, following clear evidence that he was involved in vote-buying. The fact that the government was able to manage the situation properly and find Mr Beleri a winner with 17 votes more than his opponent is the best proof that the elections were honest, fair and followed a secure process. Despite the fact that the opposition’s candidate was charged for vote-buying and was in jail, the votes that he won were still counted. The same excellent process unfolded in Finiq and Dropull where MEGA’s Romeo Cakuli and Dhimiter Bushi won with the support of the Socialist Party. This would me more than enough to dismantle all of Meta’s and Berisha’s excuses regarding their catastrophic electoral failure.

The fifth statistic has to do with the message that Albanian voters sent to the opposition. The massive vote against its candidates does not necessarily that all of them were weak candidates. Despite the negative results, candidates like Belind Kellici, Igli Cara, Luciano Boci, Bardh Spahia and many others did not deserve to be punished as severely as they were. This means that they and the rest of the opposition must understand that they were punished for serving as masks of Sali Berisha and Ilir Meta, or even worse, for trying to use their power and influence to pave their own paths into politics. Albanian voters removed this mask. They took away the political and electoral power from these candidates, thus challenging them to try and succeed on their own. If they fail to win without Berisha’s and Meta’s support, then they should just own up to their failures and not blame Berisha and Meta.

While there is no evidence so far, it seems rather clear that in many big cities Berisha’s opponents within the opposition did not vote for the candidates of the official Democratic Party and gave their votes to the Socialist candidates in an effort to hurt Berisha even worse. This must have been a silent decision of every Albanian Democrat angry at Sali Berisha’s determination to usurp the opposition.

These messages must be taken seriously if Democrats want these voters to return to them. They should speak to Albanians without the masks of Sali Berisha or Ilir Meta and by refusing their political ideologies. Otherwise, Albanian voters will continue to punish them in worse ways in the future. Furthermore, they should realize that these were not simply local elections, but rather a national political and geopolitical referendum, which showed that Albanians would never exchange their support for the West with Sali Berisha and Ilir Meta and that Albanians are not willing to wage war against the United States to protect Berisha’s personal interests.

Sali Berisha today is like the character of the folktale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” who was undress of his fake clothes, crown and power by Albanian voters. Today he is nothing more than a guy who has usurped the political headquarters of a political party and who should be dragged out of there if he does not leave on his own. This is the time for the founding of a new opposition, without Berisha as part of it, as the only way to give hope to Albanian voters in the next elections, which are right around the corner.

The more Berisha remains as invader of the opposition, the more he is going to devastate the opposition’s electorate, risking to disintegrate the Democratic Party completely for his personal issues.   

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