The potential electoral success in Shkdora has "upset" many Socialist mayors across Albania

30 Prill 2023, 21:59Op-Ed Mero Baze

For the first time in decades, Shkodra represents an electoral battle that has made the Socialists dream about winning. Despite how it is being depicted, this is not because of the opposition’s candidate, Bardh Spahia. He is not a weak candidate. On the contrary, he is a much better one compared to several previous mayors that have governed the municipality of Shkodra in the last thirty years. The real reason is because Shkodra has always represented an internal battle for the Democratic Party. All that was needed was to find a candidate, who would then automatically be elected as mayor.

While Bardh Spahia might have issues with certain groups within his former party, this is not because of his performance, but rather because for the mayor’s office is the only office of power for the opposition. Both candidates come from prominent anti-communist families in Shkodra. Bardh Spahia’s father was a medical doctor, dissident and the head of the Democratic Party’s Parliamentary Group in 1997. He was a staunch anti-communist who used to express openly his discontent with leftist streams in the Democratic Party, including Sali Berisha.  

The Socialist candidate for Shkodra, Benet Beci, who for the first time is making the Democrats question their confidence, comes from a tradition family. He is the son of the prominent linguist, Bahri Beci, one of the biggest proponents for integrating the Gheg dialect in the official Albanian language. More than a right wing family, Benet Beci’s family represents a conservative line in Albania’s right wing politics.

In this aspect, the battle for Shkodra is not one between the former Democratic Party and the Socialist Party, but rather between two traditional right wing families, one of which enjoys also the support of the Socialist Party. This is why for the first time in decades, the Socialists are dreaming of winning in Shkodra.

However, many Socialists are not happy with what is happening in Shkodra. The costly projects introduced by Benet Benci, such as the port on Buna river and interventions on the city’s infrastructure, have scared many other Socialist candidates in other municipalities across the country and for good reason. Edi Rama’s bet to win in Shkodra risks to displace all local investments there only to show to Shokdra’s voters what they have been missing in thirty years.

This is why many Socialist candidates, confident about their winning, are not keen on Benet Beci’s potential electoral success in Shkodra. Furthermore, he is not even traditionally Socialist. Therefore, the battle for Shkodra resembles more to a struggle between two traditionally right wing politicians, which risks to take the share of investments from other Socialist mayors in Albania.

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