President of Social Democratic Party of Albania Skënder Gjinushi was elected President of the Albanian Academy of Sciences (AAS) in violation of the law.
On May 24th, the academy members voted in elections with a single candidate, Skënder Gjinushi, and elected him to lead the academy.
The law on the Academy of Sciences prescribes that regular and permanent members of the academy can run and be elected to president.
Article 11/1 of the law stipulates that:
The President of the Academy is elected directly through secret vote by the Assembly, from candidates from regular or permanent members.
Also, regular members of the academy must hold no political position. Article 6 of the law prescribes that persons holding political positions cannot be elected as members:
Persons who hold senior administrative and political positions shall not be eligible to run for election as regular and associated members of the Academy in the course of their terms in these positions.
To date, Gjinushi has been the head of the Social Democratic Party of Albania since its foundation in 1991, when the communist regime of which he was the last Minister of Education fell. Subsequently he has had a rich political career – MP, Deputy Minister, and Speaker of Parliament.
In April 4, 2019, Gjinushi registered his PSD party to run in the 2019 local elections. In the same month, he also signed a coalition agreement on local elections with the Head of Socialist Party and Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama.
His illegal election as head of the academy revealed that for several years Gjinushi, the leader of a political party, has been a member of the academy in violation of the law. This violation escalated last week when he was elected to head the academy.
Gjinushi took the lead of the reform of the Albanian Academy of Sciences two years ago with the backing of Prime Minister Edi Rama. Back then Rama said that, if the Academy opposed the reform, it would get zero funds from his government. Gjinushi planned the reform while he was president of a political party, and was quick to organize elections before it passed the parliament vote, ironically using the ‘old’ law which he and Rama had always wanted to change.
In his first press conference right after the election, Gjinushi sexually harassed a journalist.
Some academics and professors have called Gjinushi’s election a “farce” and a “political appointment” by Prime Minister Edi Rama. Professor Artan Fuga described it as a “black day for the field of science” as well as an “institutional coup”. He claimed that the elections were conducted in contravention of the regulations laid down by the academy.
The law prescribes that the elected President of the Academy of Sciences has to be approved to the position by the President of Albania.