|[Alb-Net home]||[AMCC]||[KCC]||[other mailing lists]|
[ALBSA-Info] ANALYSIS-Albanian election marks start of normal politicsGazhebo at aol.com Gazhebo at aol.com
Tue Jun 26 23:05:43 EDT 2001
ANALYSIS-Albanian election marks start of normal politics By Richard Murphy TIRANA, June 26 (Reuters) - Albania's peaceful and mainly orderly general election two days ago could mark the start of normal democratic politics after 10 turbulent years since the country overthrew communism. Albanian commentators and foreign observers say Sunday's vote, from which Prime Minister Ilir Meta's Socialists are set to emerge as winners, marked a step away from the highly polarised "winner-takes-all" politics of the past. No official results have so far been announced and a second round of voting will be held in more than 40 constituencies on July 8. But it seems certain the Socialists will rule with a reduced majority, with two conservative groups in opposition. "Despite the mess and confusion, politics starts today," said independent political commentator Remzi Lani. "We have a normal result for a transition democracy. This marks a new phase where frightening majorities are a thing of the past and there is a balance of political forces." International observers said the election, the first since the country plunged into a period of anarchy in 1997 during which an estimated 2,000 people were killed, was broadly fair, despite some irregularities. "Political development in Albania in the last decade has been little short of remarkable," said Bruce George, a British member of the OSCE parliamentary assembly. "But we are not so naive as to conclude that clinical perfection has yet been achieved in this country." The main uncertainty is whether former President Sali Berisha, whose Democratic Party has alleged widespread manipulation, will accept defeat. Berisha boycotted parliament for much of its last four-year term, but diplomats say his always strident tone was noticeably less aggressive in the latest election campaign and they hope he will ultimately acknowledge the result. NEW POLITICAL MATURITY "A positive trend in this election was that the campaign was peaceful, there was less conflict than before and hate speeches were more absent," says Genc Pollo, political secretary of the New Democrat Party which looks likely to be the third largest group in the next parliament. Pollo, once a close Berisha aide, broke away from his former mentor to form a new grouping which he describes as Albania's only serious centre-right party. He detects a "new political maturity" in Albania and says the likely disappearance of the large majorities which made past governments "arrogant and abusive" is also a healthy sign. "I think a slim majority in parliament will make this government more accountable than before." The capital, Tirana, is relaxed and bustling and enjoying a remarkable construction boom. There is no trace of the tension that overshadowed the 1997 election, when an Italian-led multinational peacekeeping force was still on the streets. Political stability at home will be critical if the government is to make progress in its new four-year term in stimulating the economy and tackling endemic corruption. Western diplomats say the Meta government is the most effective Albania has had to date and they praise his moderate stance on the crises in neighbouring Kosovo and Macedonia. The country's problems remain daunting, however. Although roads between some major towns have recently improved dramatically, infrastructure remains in a catastrophic state throughout much of Albania. Foreign investors are deterred by corruption, an uncertain legal framework and the country's lawless image, and there is a continuing brain drain of educated young people. But Meta sees signs of hope. Foreign direct investment last year was three times the 1999 level, he says, and the brain drain may be slowing. "Today people are still leaving the country but for the first time we also have people that are coming back," he told Reuters.
More information about the ALBSA-Info mailing list