The Parliament has dismissed President Ilir Meta for “serious violations” of the Constitution during the April electoral campaign. 105 MPs in the 140-seat parliament voted for Meta’s dismissal, 7 MPs voted against, and 3 abstained. This is the first time in Albania’s history that a President is dismissed by Parliament.
The Constitutional Court will have the last say on the issue by approving or rejecting the dismissal and the evidence for today’s decision.
During the April electoral campaign, Meta accused the government of being involved in preparations to rig the elections, of colluding with criminal gangs to buy votes, and called on people to defend their vote.
The Socialist majority launched procedures to dismiss him immediately after they won a third term in the April 25 elections, following the promise made a few days before by Prime Minister Edi Rama, and after the president clashed with the US ambassador on live television. They hastened to finalize the dismissal before the summer vocations and end of this parliamentary season, thus avoiding the new opposition’s vote against Meta’s dismissal, once the latter enters parliament in September.
The majority demanded to remove Meta on grounds of “serious violations” of the Constitutions, which is one of the two possible conditions to dismiss the Albanian President – the other one being “committing a serious crime.” They alleged that he had violated the unity of the people by attacking the Socialist Party and the government during the electoral campaign, incited violence, and attacked foreign diplomats.
This was the second attempt by the Socialists to dismiss President Meta. Previously, they dropped another inquiry against him in 2019 over the appointments of members to the Constitutional Court and the decree annulling the June 30 elections. After one year of inquiry and following a Venice Commission report suggesting that Meta had not committed any serious violation of the Constitution, the Socialists gave up.
In his speech in parliament ahead of the vote, Rama attacked Meta for having allegedly “betrayed his mission”, “humiliated the Constitution”, “destroyed the unity of the people”, “violated the separation of powers”, and “disgraced the Albanian people’s special relation with the US”.
The Constitutional Court should receive the Parliament’s decision on Meta’s dismissal within 5 days. It remains unclear whether they will prioritize the review of this case, or if the case join the queue of over 180 cases awaiting to be reviewed.
The court was non-functional for nearly two years due to the dismissals of judges by the justice reform. It became newly functional 6 months ago when it reached a quorum of 5 of its 9 members. It now has 7 members in total, 3 of which were proposed by President Meta, 3 by the Parliament controlled by the Socialist Party of Edi Rama, and 1 before the reform. The remaining 2 judges should be proposed by the High Court, which was also decimated by the reform.
For the dismissal to be finalized, 5 of the 7 members of the Constitutional Court should support Meta’s dismissal, including at least 1 judge proposed by him.