Authoritarian sentiments are rapidly spreading through the region. On April 16, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is holding a referendum that would ratify the establishment of a dictatorship in all but name. In Macedonia, the insistent refusal of President Gjorgje Ivanov to give Zoran Zaev’s parliamentary majority a mandate to form a government – under the pretext of the unity of the country – has thrown the country into a deep political crisis. Meanwhile in Bulgaria, the head of the Socialist Party openly attacked democracy.
In Albania, Prime Minister Edi Rama has recently also been making comments that show a deep lack of understanding about the meaning of democracy. At a party meeting on Monday, Prime Minister Rama stated that his party will enter the elections no matter what, even if they are the only party competing.
The Socialist Party will enter the elections even if all other parties won’t. There will be no postponement of the election date, there will be no caretaker government. With Sali [Berisha] or without Sali, with Luli [Lulzim Basha] or without Luli, we will enter the elections on June 18.
The elections will be held. We are not entering the elections for Sali or for Luli, but for the 1 million Albanians that voted for us in 2013 and that today are ever more.
Even if no one wants to enter the elections, the PS will enter the elections and take 140 deputies in Parliament and with its votes it will pass the vetting and any other judicial reform law.
These statements should be worrying for anyone who cares about democratic principles, because they reduce democracy to monopoly of the strongest, those with the most votes. The point about democratic elections is not to lock down absolute power for four consecutive years; elections are there to facilitate a fair representation of the population in Parliament as a basis for governing the country.
It should be pointed out that PS didn’t win an absolute majority in Parliament in 2013, and that Rama is therefore not even representing 50% of the country, let alone all of it. The PS won 713,407 votes and not “a million.”
Democracy is not a Darwinian system in which only the majority has the right to reproduce. Democracy as a system can only succeed if the government also attends to the rights of minorities of any type: social, political, ethnic, cultural, economic. Democracy is not just concerned with the right of the strongest, but also (I would even say primarily) with the right of the weakest, those who are sometimes even unable to represent themselves.
A truly democratic polity gives voice to the unheard and power to the powerless. It is true that the current opposition is in shambles and hardly able to formulate one coherent sentence, but that doesn’t mean that it ought to be crushed and destroyed forever.
Unfortunately, it appears that Prime Minister Rama, who also in his “other” career pathetically holds on to the avant-garde “genius” model of the artist, feels he is only responsible to two groups: an unelected bunch of international officials and bureaucrats, and the 713,407 Albanians that voted for the PS in 2013 – and it increasingly seems he doesn’t even care about the latter.