We on the threshold of election day and the only difference produced in voter’s behavior this year is maybe the fact that this year, more so than during any other electoral year, there has been an increase in the number of undecided voters, thus leaving the other categories untouched. A large group of voters, who are ultimately disappointed by the old political offers embellished by new packaging, will pursue their right not to vote; another group are playing the “the lesser of many evils” game; another group will vote for the newly created parties given that they have no trust for the older ones; another group will vote for the one they perceive as “the winner” because they have grown tired of watching friends, relatives, and other folk enjoy political favors; another group will change their vote; a very large group will not change their vote even if their life was depending on it; another group will vote in order to keep their jobs; another group will vote so they can get a job, another group won’t put their vote in the ballot because they have emigrated, while another group are making their luggage ready.
One group will decide based on the road that was built or not built, based on the job they have or don’t have, based on the limited media information, which shows them a different reality from actual everyday life (“At least in Tirana, work is being done,” says the man from Divjaka. Maybe if it keeps going this way, his time will come too), etc., etc. Everyone is disappointed because “This country doesn’t het anywhere!,” “Everything has been decided!,” and in the mean time some have gotten used to it, whereas some have given up. The ones that are used to it are now thinking only of their own profit at the expense of the country, whereas the ones simply do not wish to listen anymore.
“So which party do you suggest we vote for?!”– this is how every possible debate about the political social and economic situation in the country, ends. This debate revolves randomly around what leader of party x or y has told them, what this party x or y has done during this or that time, how trustworthy are the figures x or y of an old or a new party, and also which one has the worst results during the past 27 years.
Which party will be the one to finally bring about a difference? This party would have to keep its promises, respect the laws, have as little shady characters as possible among its members; it would have to clean up the older caste, it would have to work for the country, fight corruption, create jobs, it would bring roads, electricity, and water to rural zones, issues that no one ever talks about; the party would have to help the farmers and attract foreign investments, it would have to lower taxes and increase investments, and so on and so forth.
The answer ends with excuses that show lack of representation as well as the increase in deformations like “At least party X has done this and hasn’t done that or that…” The truth, during this election, is that the choice you make doesn’t really matter, because parties are part of a much bigger problem.
The problem is easy to describe: we cannot seem to control the parties that come to power. The party that assumes power has close relationships with the judicial system, it controls the majority in the legislative system, it doesn’t have any inner democracy, and finally it assigns and hires loyal people in the administrative positions and anywhere else. Anyone who takes hold of the government is now all powerful; the power is given to them after the 8-year-long bad government of the opposite party. This party will have won from the punishing vote that has secured it a large support and legitimacy among the people (The lesser of many evils).
This 8-year-old system of bad government and “rotation” secures the party that wins, whichever one that will be, the chance to repent for all the sins they committed in the past. Actually, during 8 years of bad government, these sins are made to seem smaller and their successes made to seem much bigger, their promises seem better than anything possible and the cycle repeats itself. In order to illustrate this, I am asking you, who will remind you of the PD’s sins when PS governs us for the next 4 years? Who remembered the sins of the PS during Nano’s administration in 2013?
The situation above will get repeated with every party and individual that will govern, because a lack of power control mechanisms poses a problem. This is a problem of the people, not the parties. The cycle of bad government will repeat endlessly until the people understand that they are the counterbalance, and not only through the voting ballot every four years, but also with their daily reactions against bad governance. A party that is in power doesn’t need the support of its people, but it needs its continuous pressure; it doesn’t need to be excused by its people, but it needs to be held accountable; it doesn’t need to embezzle more, but to do more. A party cannot only apply a project, but it must follow the law, ensuring that it is the best possible project, that has the lowest cost and uses the shortest amount of time.
We should start punishing them, not every eight years but every four years. Voting is one of our many powers, the other being a continuous critical outlook, which is our largest but rarely used power. This is the signal change we can achieve because political parties will not limit their powers willingly. We should reject nepotistic voting, voting for the least bad alternative, voting based on personal short-term interest and start voting smartly.
In these elections, it doesn’t matter which party you choose to vote, as long as that party is not in power : LIBRA, SFIDA, PD, PR, USSH, RTHSN, ELOD or PAA, the more parties you vote, the more power is redistributed; the more you change them around, the less power they posses; when the vote is used to punish, it is a vote well used. The fact that you choose a party that is not any better than the others is not important, because the lesson taught to one party, is a lesson taught to all of them: “Whichever governs badly, will leave!”
The fear of not enjoying power after four years will lead to a system that respects the law, the democratization of parties, a system of merit and contribution, the protection of public property, the serious work of institutions and accountability. No party will be able to fulfill all of these, however the electorate will. This is our power and it is bigger than any other type of power that springs from money, crime, and social position. Our generation’s duty is to become smart voters, not directors or deputies at 22.
Originally published by Platform for Monitoring and Evaluating Public Policies (APPA).