From: Blendi Fevziu
The Meaning of Basha’s List

Last Friday, almost at the end of the legal deadline, Lulzim Basha published the list of candidates for Democratic deputies. The sealed list can be explained only by the names it contains, as well as the fact that in the past 27 years, this is the most drastic purge since the one taking place in 1992 inside the party. No doubt about it, the list was a surprise, and so was its drafting. When you look at it, a few things become clear.

First, the list puts an end to a 25-year era of the Democratic Party (PD). In Basha’s list, the founders of the Democratic Party are absent, Imami, Selami, whereas Ruli resigned; absent is also the second generation that consolidated the PD opposition from 1997-2005 like Jozefina Topalli, Ridvan Bode, or Astrit Patozi; not even some of the most renowned entries from 2005 and years of PD governance like Majlinda Bregu or Myqerem Tafaj. A simple criterion can’t define all of them, as their biography, their political behavior, and their commitment are different for one another. What unites them, is not being part of Basha’s rebuilt PD or his trustees.

Basha himself gave a declaration after the publication of the list, that he is relying on those who believe in the new republic, and made it clear that the criteria to make it to the list, was being part of the protest during the 90 days, instead of political career, the history in the party, or parliamentary opposition. Basha warned about this stance even during a speech in the tent, where he declared that the protest in the boulevard had been more successful than the parliamentary opposition of the past 3 years. Basha has started to build a new party, starting from today. Through these lists, he has also made an official separation with the party leader, in good and bad days, Sali Berisha.

There is no doubt that the list will open up a huge debate. The names that are discounted like Jozefina Topalli, Astrit Patozi, Majlinda Bregu, and Arben Imami, will surely be discussed at length. Personally, I never liked Jozefina Topalli. Her arrogance manifested in power, was often a sign of political ignorance and immaturity. But the history of these past 4 years in opposition, has testified that she was one of the few who has completed her duty in the Parliament, with courage and boldness. And without a doubt, she was politically conscious. The latest debates about entering the elections, were always for the cause of a new and stronger Democratic Party. Patozi as well held very important opposition speeches. Surely, Imami as well, the first person who told Albanians about the creation of an Opposition Party, the night of December 11, 1990. Also Bregu became an important political figure with a strong public impact, after her latest discussions and positions.

This was Basha’s solution and it remains undoubtedly his responsibility.

Second, the issue of the new names enlisted remains, and they are expected to substitute the former experienced members of the PD in future parliamentary battles. The focus of debate is on the ones being dismissed from the list, and also on the newcomers. It is rather early to discus the new names that haven’t been tried out yet. Noticeable is the return of Tritan Shehu and Preç Zogaj, who together with Dashamir Shehu are some of the founding members of the Democratic Party. The debate will focus on the new names. It remains to be seen whether the new names will be fit for success or destined to failure. This is Basha’s bet and time will tell.

Third, the way the lists were drafted. Basha should have assembled the leadership and made his decisions public. For some this could be a simple formality, but is in fact respect for the status of the party and its rules. Defying rules and dismissing principles are first steps that ruin democracy within a party. Despite these, Basha has thrown his army in battle and doesn’t have much time at hand to justify his choices as good or bad. This will be tested at election date, June 25, and afterward we will figure out whether his decision was the right one or not.