43 385 members of the Democratic Party voted to oust the leader of the Party Lulzim Basha, in a party wide referendum. It is almost 98,8 per cent of the 43879 party members that turn out. There are currently about 75 thousand registered members of the party.
The referendum was organized by a provisional committee elected by an extraordinary party convention called by party members which took place a week ago. About 5 thousand out of about 7600 members of the convention with the tight to vote participated according to organizers.
The formal leadership of the party including Basha have recognized neither the referendum nor the party convention. Basha is adamant that he remains the only legitimate leader of the party and has the support of the majority of party’s executive committee, parliamentary group and regional leaders. However, it seems that he has lost the support of the majority of party membership, who want new leadership elections.
The internal stride in the Democratic Party started after former leader and arguably the most influential figure in the party Sali Berisha was banned from entering the US by the US State Secretary on allegations of corruption. After the ban Basha expelled Berisha from DP’s parliamentary group. Berisha reacted by asking for the resignation of Basha and then initiated the call of the party convention which eventually voted to remove Basha.
Berisha has always claimed that his designation was lobbied by Albanian Prime Minister and his political enemy Edi Rama and American billionaire George Soros, a personal friend of Rama. He has sued Secretary of State for defamation in a French court.