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Albanian party system
Parties and elections form popular themes of research in political science and in particular in comparative political science. For many years Albania has been functioning within one political, economic and social system. The country has gone from a pure majority system in 1990, to a mixed system with majority tendencies from 1992 to 2005, to a proportional representation system in 2009.Various political and economic changes resulted after the collapse of the wild communist regime. The variuos changes has gradually touched Albania. Beginning with the election of year 1991, every other election opened a new stage in the development of the party system, where it was not only changes in its format, but also in the mechanism of action.
The debate on political parties is always up to date. It corresponds to the dynamics political processes, as well as with the significant role of political groups in the society life. The changes of the party system in Albania have taken place in the country in 1990, as a result of the replacement of the communist ideology with the political pluralism. The transition to democracy in Albania has been varied; political transition - from the state party to party pluralism; economic pluralism - from a centralized economy to a market economy; social transition - from a closed and controlled in a free society; transition of national security - a country isolated to a country that is working for European integration. In Albania we can observe the functioning of a multiparty system. The advantage of a multi-party system functioning in Albania is greater representativeness of preferences and views of the public, but also carries the risk to less political stability, difficulties in setting up effective government and governing the country. Since the beginning of the great political changes of the late 90s, we can observe the dynamic development of all kinds of parties and groups. Albania is a Parliamentary Republic, where power is divided in three: the executive, the legislative and the juridical. There are two main parties in Albania (Democratic Party and Socialist Party) and several minor groups, important from the point of view of the coalition. The lack of any democratic experience and a very low standart of political culture led to the establishment of not very demmocratic practises in fact.
The evolution of Albanian Assembly and political parties
Albania's parliamentary institutions have their beginnings in late 1912 with Albanian independence from the Ottoman Empire. Assembly of Vlora, served as the legislative body for two years, until 1914. The Lushnja Congress created the Senate (the first Albanian Parliament, later the National Council) as the legislative body, which consisted of 37 members elected by delegates to the Congress. The most important act was the Statute of Lushnja, which established constitutional law. The legislative activity of the National Council ended in December 1920, when the Council was dissolved to prepare the country for its first election in March 1921. By-elections were held in March 1921, and the country was represented by 78 deputies. At this time Parliament began to meet regularly as a body. In 1922 the Statute of Lushnja was expanded into a constitution with the highest power given to the state and a legitimate parliament. The former National Council was renamed the Parliament. The legislative body consisted of a chamber of deputies, indirectly elected by the people. During this period, two political groups emerged: the People's Party (led by Fan Noli) and the Progressive Party (led by Hoxha Kadriu). In September 1923, the National Council closed its proceedings at the conclusion of the legislature to prepare the country for new elections to the Constitutional Assembly, held in December of that year. The Constitutional Assembly, consisting of 100 deputies, convened over two periods (21 January – 2 June 1924 and December 1924 – 2 March 1925). Its main task was the drafting of a written constitution. Albania's form of government was defined as a parliamentary republic, headed by a president whose sovereignty was derived from the people. By decree of the Constitutional Assembly, Ahmet Zog was elected head of state. For the only time in Albania's history, its parliament consisted of two chambers: the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. The Constitutional Assembly emerged from the elections of 17 August 1928 with 58 members, a statute-sanctioned monarchical form of government and a unicameral parliamentary system. Albania proclaimed itself a "democratic, parliamentary, and hereditary kingdom" headed by "His Majesty Zog I". Elections for the Constituent Assembly after the war were held on 2 December 1945 and the first time, women were allowed to vote. The constitution was adopted on 14 March 1946, when the Constitutional Assembly became the National Assembly. In 1976 Parliament adopted the Constitution of the People's Socialist Republic of Albania. After more than five decades, the first signs of revival of parliamentarianism appeared in Albania. After 67 years, the first pluralistic parliament emerged from the elections of 31 March 1991 with 250 members. On 21 October 1998 Parliament adopted a new constitution, drafted with the help of international organizations. The new constitution created the opportunity to better understand the political system in Albania and the role of its participants. The People's Assembly of Albania was unicameral, with 140 members. After the implementation of the Constitution Parliament, as the highest legislative power, was responsible for drafting and approving laws.
The political coalition in Albania
On 23 June, Albania held the eighth parliamentary elections since the fall of communism, on which the Alliance for a European Albanian won convincingly by obtaining 57,7 % of the votes (84 out of 140 seats). These elections were seen by the international observers as a test for the Albanian’s democracy. The left wing coalition, under the name Rilindje (Renaissance) - was headed by the Socialist Party of Albania. The right coalition was headed by the Democratic Party (Alliance for Employment, Prosperity and Integration.)
The main parties in Albania are: the Socialist party (SP) and the Democratic Party (DP), taking turns in government and opposition. The socialist Party is the successor to the communist party. The Democratic Party is a centre-right political organization and the main governing party since 2005. PD first took power in 1992 after winning the general election under the leadership of Berisha and Aleksander Meksi who governed as president and prime minister.
The Socialist Movement for Integration from 2009 onwards and its electoral success began to dim the power of quasi two-party system. The SMI was founded in 2005 by the former SP member, Ilir Meta. In the 2009 parliamentary elections, the SMI won four seats in the Albanian parliament and joined the Centre-right coalition government. In 2013, entered in a pre-electoral alliance with the Socialist Party.
In Albania there are 123 political parties. The 2013 parliamentary election in Albania wasn’t exceptional: it confirms the electoral support for the two strongest parties, and insignificant success of (quasi-) new parties was also recorded. Political parties play a key role in the process of EU integration and democratization in Albania. In 2011, the Brussels executive issued a list of 12 key priorities for Albania to meet before its entrance in the big European family. Seven of these 12 conditions have already been ticked off and, the country has to fulfil pending reforms in the future. Among others, the dialogue and cooperation between SP and DP is an important issue to be completed.
The political debate lacks of understanding, tolerance, and consensus between the parties. In his book, Albania in transition, Elez Biberaj describes the tension during election periods: "These two parties have seen the election as a contest where the winner takes it all and the loser loses everything, often ignoring the democratic rules, manipulating election procedures, trying to repress the judiciary and the media, opposing any unfavorable outcome for them. " . Albania still has not found its way, in terms of a fruitful collaboration between the political forces, to make decisions and to have a common program for the good of the country and euro-Atlantic integration.
The political debate among these two parties is characterized by high tones of arrogance and total lack of democratic culture which often exceeds the limits of a democratic culture. There has been no readiness between them to do compromises, no desire to cooperate and no will to put the national interests over the partial ones.
DOCUMENTS FROM INTERNET
Kuvendi i Shqiperise, http://www.parlament.al/web/Zgjedhjet_e_fundit_te_Kuvendit_125_1.php, (accessed on: 08.12.2014 r.)
The national agency of news, http://www.noa.al/mob/index.php?type=artikull&id=449673#sthash.KSTD4t4d.dpuf, (access 20.11.2014).
GRECO (2008) Evaluation Report on Albania, Transparency of Party Funding (Theme II).
Retrieved from http://www.idea.int/political-finance/sources.cfm (access 14.10.2014).