Anyone walking on the streets of Tirana has probably noticed the billboards showing the latest propagandist invention of the government: the co-governance platform. A lot has been said about the nearly dictatorial effect the rhetoric and the decisions of Prime Minister Rama regarding job dismissal motivated simply by some anonymous comments.
Unfortunately, the problem is much larger than that. The opinion coming from society regarding the quality of governance is important, in fact the core of democracy. Beyond the idea that politicians and members of the elite often attempt to use the need for “expertise” on public issues, no-one better than ordinary citizens is in the position to evaluate whether different decisions improve their lives or not. The war for the creation and improvement of democratic institutions revolves around the formalization and applicability of this principle, that citizens decide about their affairs as much as possible and politicians as little as possible.
But has Edi Rama during his political career attempted to formalize and strengthen the society’s opinion or rather diminish it?
In fact the entirety of concrete political decisions he has undertaken so far have only taken away from citizens the opportunity to express their opinions clearly and compellingly. Today the citizens of Albania have no realistic opportunity to choose their representatives in Parliament (or in the local government units) due to the side effects of an electoral code approved by both Rama and Berisha.
Firstly, the deputy lists doesn’t undergo a selection process within the respective political parties. Further still, it has now become a custom in order to avoid the possible surprises coming from independent candidates, the parties mysteriously submit their lists after the official deadline. The idea that political parties can represent among themselves dissenting voices is totally dead in Albanian politics.
Secondly, the Electoral Code itself doesn’t allow the opportunity to express a preference between candidates. The lists are closed, unchangeable, with citizens left solely to approve the ones chosen by the candidate list of the chairman. The Code also makes it very difficult for small parties or independent candidates to pass the minimum threshold, turning parliament into a personal selection of the chairman’s lists rather than representatives of society and co-governance.
Thirdly as the citizens of Valbona and Karavasta are learning lately, referendums under the new constitution have become increasingly difficult. Today citizens have effectively no possibility to scare off the politicians with the use of referendums because the decision to hold them is impossible.
Fourthly, the impossibility to be represented by a specific deputy, as well as the strong party whip in Parliament makes it impossible for citizens with their vote to influence deputies, as in fact occurs in many developed democracies. It is unheard of for Albanian deputies to hold meetings with ordinary citizens around the decisions taken in Parliament. The meetings are solely for the Prime Minister, but even they are so strictly organized that a few whistles in a recent meeting were considered important news, being that such opposition hasn’t been seen in a long time.
During his governance, whether in the Socialist Party and now at the head of government, Prime Minister Rama in fact has systematically dismantled all formal means by which ordinary citizens can impose themselves decisively unto those ruling over them. Today citizens do not have influence in the selection process of their representatives, no influence in their election, and no influence in the laws voted by such representatives.
All these, according to Prime Minister Rama and the advertisements found everywhere they can be replaced with an online platform.