Domestic politics

2001 parliamentary elections
Meta's Socialist Party wins

 

Prime Minister Illir Meta visiting

Prime Minister Ilir Meta visiting NATO Headquarters, May 7, 2001.  (NATO)

The old alignments proved decisive. The Socialist Party won 73 seats in the 140-member legislature, and Ilir Meta was made Prime Minister for another term, fighting off a challenger backed by Nano. The Union for Victory (UFV) coalition, led by the Democratic Party, won 46 seats. They denied the legality of the process, but Meta's government retained international support, largely due to its policy of preserving or restoring good neighborly relations, and urging Kosovo and Macedonian Albanians to use dialogue rather than violence to achieve political aims.

2002 presidential election
Moisiu elected
Albania's president Alfred Moisiu delivers a speech at the official ceremony marking Albania's independence day in Vlora, Albania. Albania's top leaders celebrated the 90th anniversary of independence from the former Ottoman empire. 28 November 2002 (© AP/Wide World Photo/Hektor Pustina)

Albania's president Alfred Moisiu delivers a speech at the official ceremony marking Albania's independence day in Vlora, Albania. Albania's top leaders celebrated the 90th anniversary of independence from the former Ottoman empire, 28 November 2002. (© AP/Wide World Photo/Hektor Pustina)

Parliament elected ex-general Alfred Moisiu President in 2002, replacing Rexhep Meidani. The 72-year old Moisiu was acceptable to the major political parties and had good contacts with the West. His election was a hopeful sign of cooperation between rivals Nano and Berisha, who cooperated for the first time in a decade. Moisiu selected Nano as Prime Minister - his third time holding that office.

In 2003 Meta quit the government after calling on Nano to speed reform and stamp out corruption. Subsequently, Meta’s faction blocked the appointment of a foreign minister. The rift between Meta and Nano weakened the Socialist Party, pitting a younger generation of reformists against more experienced political actors, and also serving to strengthen Berisha's position.

In 2004, Berisha orchestrated large-scale street demonstrations against Nano in Tirana. International support remained behind Nano, who after Meta’s resignation negotiated with smaller parties to keep the government functioning. Although Nano appeared vulnerable to accusations of corruption and insider dealing (his wife was a leading businesswoman), Albanians also resented Berisha’s attempts to stir up disorder.

2005 parliamentary elections
Berisha's Democrats win, as Socialists split
People look for their names on the voter list during parliamentary elections in Albania, 3 July 2005 (OSCE)

People look for their names on the voter list during parliamentary elections in Albania, 3 July 2005 (OSCE)

Berisha’s Democratic Party bested Nano’s Socialist Party in the 2005 parliamentary elections, with another 10 parties also taking seats thanks to proportional representation. The Socialist Party split prior to the election, with Meta forming his own Socialist Movement for Integration.

The OSCE International Election Observation Mission said the elections complied only partially with international standards for democratic elections. While the elections were competitive and the media provided a diversity of electoral information, there were numerous technical and administrative problems with the potential for electoral abuse.

Rama replaces Nano as head of Socialist Party
Edi Rama (Facebook)

Edi Rama (Facebook)

Nano resigned his leadership of the Socialist Party after it lost its majority in the 2005 parliamentary elections.  He was succeeded by Tirana Mayor Edi Rama.  

Nano also failed to win the support of his party or the opposition in the 2007 presidential election. He subsequently formed a new party, the Movement for Solidarity.

2007 local elections

Disagreement over voting procedures delayed elections by one month. Minister Berisha and Socialist Party leader Rama finally agreed on voting lists and types of voter identification voters would need.

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Ink is applied to the hand of a voter in the Albanian local elections, 18 February 2007. The International Election Observation Mission report noted that the ink was controversial, with opposition parties claiming it could be easily removed. (OSCE/Urdur Gunnarsdottir)

The Socialists were the decisive victors in the elections, winning the majority of offices contested in 384 urban and rural communities, including almost all the major cities.

The International Election Observation Mission noted that while the elections provided for a competitive contest, an opportunity was missed to conduct elections fully in accordance with international standards. Although, overall the election day was calm, voting was marred by procedural shortcomings and local tensions.

Topi elected in 2007 presidential election
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Bamir Topi (Albanian presidential website)

The Assembly held several rounds of indirect elections over June and July 2007. An opposition boycott first prevented any candidate from winning the necessary three-fifths. Finally, Bamir Topi of the Democratic Party won with 85 out of 100 votes, thanks to five opposition members who voted for him.

2009 parliamentary elections
Berisha edges out Rama
Parallel Vote Count monitors observe ballot counting to report results of Albania’s June 2009 parliamentary elections (USAID/Paul Cohn

Parallel Vote Count monitors observe ballot counting to report results of Albania’s June 2009 parliamentary elections (USAID/Paul Cohn)

A coalition led by Berisha's Democrats won 46.9% of the June vote (70 seats), edging out Rama's Socialist-led coalition with 45.34% of the vote (66 seats).  The Socialist Alliance for Integration led by former Prime Minister Ilir Meta won 5.56% of the vote (4 seats).  Berisha's coalition took the north of the country, while Rama's coalition rook the south.

As a precaution against fraud, each voter's finger was marked with ink during Albania's 2009 parliamentary elections, Elbasan, 28 June 2009. (OSCE/Roberto Berna)

As a precaution against fraud, each voter's finger was marked with ink during Albania's 2009 parliamentary elections, Elbasan, 28 June 2009. (OSCE/Roberto Berna)

According to the International Election Observation Mission's final report, while these elections met most OSCE commitments, they did not fully realize Albania’s potential to adhere to the highest standards for democratic elections. The report also implicitly criticized the insufficient commitment of Albanian political parties to respect the letter and the purpose of the law and carry out their electoral duties in a responsible manner in order to preserve the integrity of the process. 

2012 presidential election
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President Bujar Nishani (Albanian presidential website)

The ruling Democratic Party put forward Xhezair Zaganjoni, a member of the Constitutional Court, as a proposed consensus candidate.  The opposition Socialists, however, rejected Zaganjoni, claiming that the Democrats had failed to consult them prior to his candidacy.  After three failed rounds, Zaganjoni withdrew from the race.  Finally, Interior Minister Bujar Nishani was elected president.  

2013 parliamentary elections
Rama's Socialist coalition wins decisively
A man scanning the voters list for his name outside a polling station in Elbasan during the Albanian presidential elections, 23 June 2013. (OSCE/Thomas Rymer)

A man scanning the voters list for his name outside a polling station in Elbasan during the Albanian presidential elections, 23 June 2013. (OSCE/Thomas Rymer)

Rama's Socialist-led coalition took 57.7% of the vote (and 84 seats) compared to Berisha's Democrat-led coalition with 39.4% of the vote.  Some 62 parties and 2 independents contested the elections, with most joining coalitions lead by the Democrats or Socialists.  Berisha took responsibility for the loss and resigned as party leader.  

The preliminary report of the International Election Observation Mission noted that the elections were competitive with active citizen participation, with genuine respect for fundamental freedoms, but that the atmosphere of mistrust between the two political forces tainted the electoral environment and challenged he administration of the whole process.  Instances of blurring between state institutions and party interests were noted.  Technical preparations for the elections were termed adequate.  One shooting incident marred election day.