Today Ilir Meta is expected to become the new President of Albania. Thus he will become the seventh president of post-communist Albania and without a doubt the weakest compared to his predecessors. The weakest not because of his political stature (after Sali Berisha, who was president from 1992–1997, he is certainly the most impressive personality), but because of the president’s competences, which today are the most limited since 1991. The role of the President was drastically reduced by the Constitution of 1998, was even further limited through the constitutional changes of 2008, and finally was stripped of its last powers in 2016 as a result of the judicial reform.
But why is Meta craving the presidency? Why is he leaving a party that managed to become dominant on the Albanian political scene, more or less the determining factor, and going to an office that is closer to ceremony than political decision making? The answer is not easy, but there are no doubt several aspects.
First, Ilir Meta has aspired the post of head of state since 2012. According to a journalist close to Rama and Meta, Baton Haxhiu, the 2013 agreement between the PS and LSI has been as follows: Rama Prime Minister and Meta President. So Meta is doing nothing more than following up on this earlier claims. He knows well that different from other presidents (except Berisha and to a certain extent Bamir Topi), he doesn’t go there to end his political career, but to reopen it once again. He is looking for a transitional period to create the image of a person that brings the sides together, while trying to keep the LSI alive. A president with a party is always stronger than a president proposed by a party with which he loses his connections. So the presidency is only yet another a transitional phase in Meta’s career. That what it seems, at least.
Second, it’s time! Opinion, which yesterday was the first to break the news that Meta would be candidate for the presidency, has been informed that Meta claimed the post after the elections. Meanwhile Rama wanted to send him to the Presidency before the elections. But the situation has changed rapidly after the refusal of the opposition to participate in the elections. The LSI lost the opportunity to register with the PS in an electoral coalition and is forced to enter the elections by themselves. Through the absence of the PD, the results will without a doubt be deformed and unrealistic. The big losers will be the LSI and PDIU, whose votes will be no longer necessary for the PS, which will have the necessary votes to create and sustain a government. Under these conditions the post-electoral coalition will be exist on paper, but not in practice. This has shocked Meta. He calculated that after the elections he might be refused the post the post that promised to him, or could be lost to a new and unpredicted political situation, and he has decided to run now.
This majority has the votes. Meta will today be president and Rama has managed to accomplish exactly what he wanted. The removal for 5 years from the political scene, even if temporarily, of the man who most threatened his post as prime minister. After Meta’s removal from the scene, he now has only one rival, Basha.
Third, it is unknown what the political effects will be of Meta’s decision. It is uncertain what the departure of Meta from the campaign will bring for the LSI, but it seems to be difficult for his party to accomplish the objectives it set for itself.
In any case Meta should to be relieved today, but even more relieved should be Rama who at least for some time will have managed to avoid his ally and rival within the majority!