From: Karl Kuçi
Future Coalitions, Virginity or Realism?

The approach of the elections is bringing excitement on the Albanian political scene, while the widespread dissatisfaction with the economic, social, and moral situation in which the country is slipping produces some attempts to give represent (or capture the votes of) a broader part of the Albanian society, which begins to realize that the current system is plunging the country into an abyss without return.

In reality, Albanian politics for a long time has been witnessing numerous attempts to form new political parties, sometimes as acts of revenge of characters of a certain caliber expelled by the traditional parties, sometimes motivated by abstract policy analyses, at other times even driven by irrepressible ambition, but ultimately supported by the mere attempt to capitalize on the fame acquired through an “appointed” political life. All these attempts, to a greater or lesser extent, reflect all the hypocrisies of Albanian society, torn by material needs and an innate and uncontrollable jealousy.

In the last election , there were presented altogether the 68 parties, 25 of which have totaled less than 1,000 votes nationwide, and only 6 parties have exceeded 1% of the votes cast throughout the country (1,724,779 valid votes) and only 8 have exceeded the theoretical quorum of 12.320 votes (ie ‘1/140 of the votes cast), while not always getting deputies because of the characteristics of the electoral law.

As a matter of fact, only 7 parties have at a representation in Parliament, while 12 parties got more votes in 2013 than the Christian Democratic Party (PKDSh), whose sole representative from Lezha got 7,993 votes. In other words, 5 parties received more votes than the PKDSh yet to secure a seat in Parliament.

In short, to create a new party and win a seat in Parliament is a very difficult task, unless there are particular concentrations of voters in certain constituencies.

It is even more difficult, if not impossible, to enter Parliament without being part of a coalition. I remember the experience of former President Bamir Topi who, being without coalition, gathered nearly 30,000 votes, with 10,062 of them in Tirana. I didn’t receive a mandate. This year, the threshold, at least in Tirana, will drop a little, because the Tirana district will provide 34 deputies rather than 32. But in terms of votes needed to pass, probably the result does not change much.

Unless there are any further surprises (Kokëdhima?), the elections of June 18 will feature three new parties, all fiercely against the current system. All of them are headed by a known leader: the leader of the December riots and later founder of the Democratic Party (PD) with Shenasi Rama with Bleta Shqiptare; the deputy–writer who escaped from the Socialist Party (PD) Ben Blushi with Libra; and former deputy minister and appointed official of the Democratic Party Gjergi Bojaxhiu with Sfida për Shqipërinë. All three have announced, or suggested, that will not enter a coalition with the two main parties, PS and PD.

Bojaxhiu has even inserted in the statutes of his party that no coalition can be made with parties currently represented in Parliament, leaving the door open to attract Ben Blushi and Shenasi Rama, if not the former head of the Central Election Commission (KQZ) and High Council of Justice (KLD) Kreshnik Shpahiu with Aleanca Kuqezi (10,196 votes in 2013, without a coalition) to form a theoretical coalition of “politically virgin” parties.

Indeed, although the arguments of all the leaders of these new parties appear focused on the political, social, and economic disaster generated by the major parties and their methods of managing consent (in the country through the media of the oligarchs, and in Parliament through the electoral law with closed lists), none of the self-proclaimed leaders of the new parties may have to convince the voters to be really “politically virgin,” especially when such a “virginity’ would almost certainly result in the waste of those votes.

Especially intriguing is the position of Ben Blushi, whose “virginity” has been thoroughly excluded by his a past and a character that is well known by all the Albanian public. Blushi recently made statements that he wants to enter the elections alone, but many independent observers predict that Blushi, by virtue of his long and undeniable political experience, will prefer political realism of a more effective coalition with LSI leader Ilir Meta (with a safe, anti-Rilindja result) rather than the self-certified virginity of Bojaxhiu (which could have contrary effects).

The birth of these parties, and the obvious support reserved for them by the media controlled by the government (with the exception of Blushi, whose personal fame guarantees access to the media), it is thought that they are the result of political tactics of Edi Rama and his campaign strategists to subtract the votes of the PD opposition votes. But their still uncertain deployment in the electoral competition, which will remain uncertain until the submission of the candidate lists, continues to fuel assumptions and inferences, often malignant, in the media close to the various political parties.