Over the last few days, Prime Minister Edi Rama has started to publish the “reports” resulting from his meetings with the “common people” in the different regions of Albania as part of his co-governance platform, an initiative launched after his electoral victory on June 25.
So far, Rama has published the “reports” on Kukës, Dibra, Lezha, and Shkodra. I put reports between quote marks, because these are drafted through a completely opaque and arbitrary process by party commissions that have no legally determined role in the public administration.
The methodology with which these “reports” are written is not based on long-term monitoring and reliance on quantitative statistical data, or rigorously, statistically sound polling. No, they are based on pre-selected subsets of the population, namely those who are affiliated with the Socialist Party and are willing to spend several hours outside in the sweltering heat to listen to the Prime Minister hold a monologue.
All these “reports” consist of two components. An “analysis” of the election results based on publicly available data form the Central Election Commission (KQZ) and a ranked list of complaints. For example, we now know that in Shkodra 58 people complained about the slow pace of legalizations, while in Lezha 76 complained about the absence of drinking water. In Dibra, 118 persons are concerned about the road to Tirana, and also in Kukës, 45 people expressed concern about the state of secondary roads.
In every “report,” these numbers are tabulated differently and nothing is known about the education level, age, political orientation, income, etc., of the people who expressed their concerns to the Prime Minister. In short, these data tell us absolutely nothing – at least nothing useful if you want to allocate the few public funds available for the good of the entire population.
The way in which these “reports” defend their findings is unprofessional, to say the least. The report on Lezha claims:
As regards the methodology of the meetings, it has to be emphasized that all the organized event have been open, public meetings, announced in advance on social media channels as well as conventional media in order to allow the inclusion of a large number of citizens interested in expression their worries, needs, and the problems of their respective communities. All meetings were held in the presence of the political leaders of the county and its [Socialist] deputies […].
Not a single word about legal deadlines stipulated by the law on public hearings, and not a single proposal that was offered for discussion. Meanwhile, the administrative justification for holding such a meeting remains completely unknown. Citizens were “gathered” in front of their “political leaders” to express “their worries, needs and […] problems.” It should be noted that at the same time the government systematically violates the legal right of citizens to be heard in questions concerning public space and the public good. These meetings show that they are allowed to “complain,” but not exercize their legal right to actually influence government policy. These meetings are – in short – a total charade.
The entire process with these “data” are gathered, and on which Rama is building a policy of summarily firing entire swaths of the public administration, is taking place outside the state and outside the rule of law. We are witnessing the birth of a parallel party–state, which operates and is financed beyond democratic control, and which publishes its findings on a privately owned social media network, Facebook – to be precise, on the personal Facebook page of the Prime Minister.
It is difficult to emphasize just how corrosive this type of professionalized and streamlined clientelism is to the rule of law. At the moment that citizens are introduced to alternative and informal pathways to right wrongs and get a quick fix to their problems, public institutions will automatically whither. This in turn will lead to increased inequality, arbitrariness, and policy based on whim and mood rather than long-term strategy.
What we are witnessing is a slow-motion destruction of what is left of the Albanian state.