From: Alice Taylor
Albania’s “Weak Democracy” Declines Over Six Years

Democracy in Albania has decreased significantly over the last five years, seeing it rank poorly across several vectors compared with East-Central Europe, Europe, and the world, according to the Global State of Democracy Index.

Albania scored a historic low in terms of impartial administration, with just 0.37 out of a possible one. This vector achieves the administration on whether it is fair or predictable. Albania scored even lower for the absence of corruption with just 0.29, signalling that corruption is rampant.

In 2015, Albania got a combined score of 2.34 out of a possible four. By 2020, this fell to 2.30 with significant decreases in corruption, impartial administration, and direct democracy. This backsliding has taken place during the first and second mandate of Prime Minister Edi Rama.

The lowest score overall was direct democracy, with just 0.08 out of a possible one. This refers to mechanisms for direct democracy and whether they are used.

Other poorly performing areas were judicial independence (0.48) and social rights and equality (0.55). Not surprisingly, Albania scored poorly for freedom of expression with just 0.54, below the global average and likely due to state capture of media institutions and pending media laws.

Elections were considered not particularly clean, with a score of just 0.59, and political parties were also not regarded as free (0.62).

Areas that scored in the “mid-range performance” instead of high performance include an effective parliament, media integrity, civil society participation, electoral participation, basic welfare, and gender equality.

Albania performed well in elected governance, which refers to what extent elections determine governance. It also got a good mark in inclusive suffrage, access to justice, civil liberties, freedom of religion and freedom of movement.

Described as a “weak democracy” in the report, the country has some of the world’s longest prison sentences for breaking pandemic restrictions, reaching 15 years. It also noted the imposition of fines for the spread of disinformation on COVID-19.

Overall, the report found that in Europe, progress towards democracy has (at best) stalled. Established democracies remained stable, but Central and Eastern Europe are not faring so well. The pandemic has exacerbated existing issues, and new repressive regimes like Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia and Turkey, are growing stronger.

Serbia was also mentioned due to “severe problems with the 2020 election which mean it can no longer be called a democracy” and questions its potential future EU membership.