From: Exit News
Freedom House Report: Albania’s Democracy in Decline

Democracy in Albania deteriorated during the last year, Freedom House’s “Nations in Transit 2020” report has found.

The ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 representing the highest level of democratic progress and 1 the lowest. Albania’s Democracy Score declined from 3.89 to 3.82 in the last year.

The country remains a hybrid regime, which FH classifies between autocracy and democracy.

Albania scored poorly in “judicial framework and independence” (3.25 points) and in “corruption” (2.75 points) categories.

It also scored lower than a year ago in “democratic governance” (3.25 points), “media independence” (3.75 points) and “electoral processes” (4.25 points).

Albania ranked behind Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia in the region, and significantly lower than the European average score (3.82 vs. 5.4).

The report states that democracy in Albania deteriorated in 2019, thus materializing the growing fear of establishing authoritarianism and a dysfunctional system of mechanisms to control and balance government.

The report notes the continuation of political crisis in the country, as well as institutional conflicts, which reveal that the system of checks and balances is ineffective in preventing them. 

It stresses the “worrying trends” in the areas of national democratic governance, electoral processes, media independence, and corruption.

The report brings back to attention opposition protests during the first half of 2019, some of which were violent, as well as how “the ruling majority ignored the political crisis, with no serious efforts made by the government and opposition to overcome the deadlock.”

The opposition’s boycott of local elections, ensuing institutional crisis between the President and majority, and extension of total control by the majority over all municipalities were also highlighted.

Modest achievements were observed in the fight against corruption, which remained troubling during 2019, marked by “serious concerns of impunity and state capture threatening the legislative process.”

Public-Private Partnerships were exposed as suspicious: “Parliament approved several suspicious concession and PPP contracts via special laws.”

The report notes that “while protests by the artistic community opposing the [National Theater] project continued daily, the government failed to disclose information on the bidding companies or the contract winner even after the 30-day deadline had expired.”

The lack of a functioning Constitutional Court and the lack of investigations into senior officials, despite the new justice institutions created, remains problematic.

2019 was a challenging year for the Albanian media, whose freedom was jeopardized by anti-defamation laws approved by the majority. It has also been at the center of government attacks despite concerns raised by media freedom organizations.