The latest misunderstanding of jouranlists with Sali Berisha

26 Maj 2023, 22:08Op-Ed Mero Baze

Sali Berisha has recently sparked a debate among journalists, the majority of which supported him in his struggle after being sanctioned by the United States and Great Britain. More and more journalists are now asking him for evidence regarding his claims that the May 14th local elections were manipulated, which is why Berisha is accusing many of them as being "paid" by the government.

The easiness with which he has sparked this debate apparently comes from Berisha’s own conviction that journalists were aware that he was not running to win the elections, but rather to win the exclusivity over the opposition. Therefore, it is now difficult for him to understand why the journalists are blaming him for the opposition’s loss.

Sali Berisha did not give any proof either to journalists or even his own supporters that he was interested to win the local elections. On the contrary, he had made it clear to them that he wanted to regain his exclusivity of the opposition. This is the second time that he repeats the same cycle in the opposition.

In 1997, as the country slipped into violent anarchy following his attempts to rule with iron fist by manipulating elections and incentivizing pyramid schemes, Sali Berisha suffered a deep electoral loss and was abandoned even by his own party. The first battle that consumed most of his energies at the time was not aimed to win power, but rather to win back his control over the Democratic Party. Since 1997 until the year 2000, Berisha waged a battle of cleansing the party from all opponents, including a group of young Democrats led by Genc Pollo, who were the last to be forced out of the party.

Only after being convinced that he had no opponents in a party, where even his close circle was made up of three people who did not speak any English as he was afraid that they might be manipulated by foreign diplomats, Berisha then launched his battle to climb back to power.

In the early days of 2005, Berisha began several political maneuvers that sought to “change” the Democratic Party, pushing it towards opening up. He created the Commission on Orienting Policies and began to invite back in the party the very people that he had kicked out, since now they did not pose a threat for his authority. This was a sign that Berisha was now interested in gaining more political power as he had already regained control over the party.

The second cycle of Berisha’s crisis, which began in 2021, is following the same trajectory. Once again he is involved in a battle to take over the exclusivity of the Democratic Party. During two consequent years, he has done what he could to destroy the party, its legacy and its political and ethical standards, only to force everyone to submit to his rule.

Many fellow journalists have joked about the Democratic Party’s formal resistance against Sali Berisha. As a matter of fact, this resistance is the most important thing that has ever happened in that party’s history and is currently Berisha’s biggest nightmare. This resistance, although small and without any electoral importance, is the seed that can breed a larger resistance within the Albanian opposition.

The rejection of Berisha by a portion of the Democratic Party is the source of his biggest nightmare. It is the reason why 250 thousand opposition voters abandoned him in the recent local elections, while another 100 thousand voted against him. This is not Lulzim Basha’s or Enkelejd Alibeaj’s opposition, which is constantly denigrated by Berisha’s journalists. This is an opposition without a leader, but one that is led by a common struggle against Sali Berisha and his ideology. To him, it would be a nightmare to even be rejected by 3% of voters and let alone by the 30% who boycotted him in the last elections. Berisha wants to have the monopoly of the opposition in order to be able to negotiate his personal issues in the future. However, the opposition itself refused to hand over this monopoly to him and even for this deserves our respect.

Since Berisha succeeded in involving most journalists in his struggle against the official Democratic Party, he is now desperate and even nervous that they are blaming him for not winning in the local elections. However, he has not made it yet to the moment when he can aim for political power. When he reached to that stage in 2005, he had already regained his monopoly of the Democratic Party. He had either expelled or forced into submission all of his opponents and only after that, he started to aim for political power.

Now, as everyone is a witness, Berisha has asked Edi Paloka and Flamur Noka to lead his party, whereas everyone else is deemed an enemy. This is a clear sign that he had not promised to anyone, either journalists or supporters, that he was looking to win the elections. All that he was interested was to have a monopoly of the opposition and even at that he is not succeeding.

Therefore, the blaming by many journalists for losing the elections has made him even angrier, forcing him to think that they might be paid by Edi Rama to make such accusations. Even the latter is probably surprised that Berisha continues to seek power by fight against Lulzim Basha and not against him. When it comes to the government, Berisha’s only requests seem to be for construction projects permits.

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