Tag Archives: edi rama

EU rewards Rama, Albania with candidate status


Maybe the decision to hire former British prime minister Tony Blair as an advisor to Albania’s new government was an astute move after all.albania

The European Council will formally name Albania as a candidate for eventual EU membership at its summit this weekend, following a decision by British prime minister David Cameron to allow Albania’s candidacy to move forward on its fourth attempt to win candidate status since 2009. As the EU membership negotiations unfold for Albania, as well as for other Balkan countries such as Serbia and Montenegro, Cameron is expected to seek carve-outs that make it more difficult for laborers from new EU member-states to enjoy free movement throughout the EU single market.

The move follows a largely successful parliamentary election in June 2013 and aggressive steps by Albania’s new, energetic prime minister Edi Rama (pictured above, left, with Blair, right) to stamp out corruption and organized crime. Albanian police moved last week, for example, to subdue Lazarat, a village in southern Albania that’s known as a chief source of marijuana throughout Europe, with an estimated annual production of €4.5 billion. Continue reading EU rewards Rama, Albania with candidate status

Rudd returns as prime minister of Australia in advance of September election


There’s not a single week that goes by in world politics that’s not amazing, and being away this week in France for a wedding proves it.

We’valbaniae seen the longtime prime minister of Albania, Sali Berisha, concede defeat to the Albanian Socialist party leader Edi Rama after Sunday’s election (read Suffragio‘s preview of the June 23 Albanian election here), which apparently won 84 seats to just 56 for Berisha’s center-right Democratic Party, a strong majority in the country’s unicameral parliament.  I’ll certainly have a bit more to add later in July when I’m back about how this could boost Albania’s chances for European Union membership — and I think it does.  Rama’s pulled his party out of its communist roots into the social democratic center, and he’s now gunning to pull Albania ever closer to the center of Europe, so he’ll start off as prime minister with a strong start.

Wczeche’ve also seen the appointment of a new prime minister of the Czech Republic in Jiří Rusnok, an economic adviser to the country’s new president Miloš Zeman, which raises even greater questions about Zeman’s push to become the country’s most powerful public servant following the resignation of the country’s prime minister Petr Nečas earlier this month.  Nečas, prime minister since 2010 and already unpopular as the leader of the center-right Civic Democratic Party over austerity measures and a flatlining economy, couldn’t withstand charges of eavesdropping against his chief of staff, with whom he is linked romantically.  In naming Rusnok, though, Zeman is indicating that he will try to take a very large role in policymaking, though the Civil Democrats want to appoint popular parliamentary speaker Miroslava Nemcova as the country’s first female prime minister and Zeman’s former colleagues, the Social Democrats, want to hold new elections.  More on this soon, too — it’s going to set the course of the relationship between the Czech president and prime minister for years to come, just over 100 days after Zeman took office following the first direct election of a Czech president.  It’s a move that The Economist called ‘Zeman’s coup,’ and that’s not far from the truth.

That’s all while the Turkish and Brazilian protests continue apace (more on that this week), while the world waits in anxiety to learn about the health of South Africa’s former president Nelson Mandela and after former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf will be tried for treason by the new government of Nawaz Sharif, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively ruled in favor of full federal rights for same-sex marriage and overturned California’s ban on gay marriage.  Quite a week.

BAustralia Flag Iconut the most important news in world politics has come from Australia, where former prime minister Kevin Rudd (pictured above) has stunningly defeated Julia Gillard as the Australian Labor Party’s prime minister on a 57-45 leadership ballot — he’s already been sworn in.  More on that tomorrow too.  I’m pretty biased in favor of world heads of government named Kevin, but it’s not biased to say that Rudd’s sudden return as Australia’s prime minister transforms the September 14 election from an inevitable Labor loss into something much more competitive.  I’m on holiday, but I will hope to have some thoughtful analysis on what this means for Australia, Labor, the opposition Coalition, Rudd, Gillard, and September’s election within hours.


Edi Rama set to return Socialists to power in Albania’s parliamentary election


After nearly a decade in opposition, the newly united Albanian left is favored to defeat the incumbent center-right government of prime minister Sali Berisha with just days to go until the country’s June 23 parliamentary elections.albania

A country of about 3.5 million residents, tucked on the southeastern Adriatic coast and bounded by the floundering Greece to its southeast, troubled Kosovo to its northeast with Montenegro to its northwest, Albania is the only country outside of the former Yugoslavia federation to have missed the first wave of European Union expansion in southeastern Europe.  Unlike neighboring Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro (or even, officially, Turkey), Albania is not yet even an official candidate for EU membership, following an embarrassing rejection in 2010 of its application for candidate status.

Regardless of who wins Albania’s elections, the world — and especially the European Union — will be watching keenly to gauge whether Albania’s government can conduct free and fair elections and orchestrate a seamless transfer of power if, as expected, it is voted out of office.  Though Albanian elections have become steadily fairer in the two decades since the country emerged from one-party rule, standards fall somewhat behind those within EU members, including most recently in 2011 local elections that resulted in charges of fraud and incompetence.  Moreover, Berisha has increasingly tried to use pan-Albanian nationalism to rally supporters, and he has even tried to extend suffrage to ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, none of which has endeared Albania’s current government to European policymakers.

After eight years in power, Berisha’s government has some modest accomplishments to boast for itself, despite its failure to get Brussels to take its EU aspirations seriously.  Berisha forged strong ties with the United States, hosting the first U.S. presidential visit to the country in 2007, and he helped shepherd Albania into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 2009.  Berisha has also presided over steady GDP growth rates of between 5% and 7% before the global financial crisis and between 3% and 5% from 2009 through 2011.

Berisha leads the Partia Demokratike e Shqipërisë (PD, Democratic Party of Albania), the country’s largest conservative party and the most dominant member of a wider coalition of parties (the so-called Alliance for Employment, Prosperity and Integration) contesting the parliamentary elections.  The PD-dominated coalition currently controls 69 seats in the 140-member, unicameral Albanian parliament (Kuvendi).

But because Albania depends on Italy to purchase nearly half of its exports, it’s not a surprise that growth dropped to just 1% in 2012, with forecasts to remain tepid in 2013.  After nearly two decades of growth after Albania emerged from its statist, Soviet-era economy, that has felt like recession for most Albanians, and that’s one of the reasons that both major parties in Albania are campaigning on the theme of change in 2013.  It’s also one of the reasons that the country’s main center-left party, the Partia Socialiste e Shqipërisë (PS, Socialist Party of Albania) and its alliance with a handful of smaller leftist parties (the Alliance for a European Albania) seems very likely to win the elections — the PS has held has held a consistent, if narrow, lead throughout the election campaign.  The PS and its allies currently hold 61 seats in Albania’s parliament. Continue reading Edi Rama set to return Socialists to power in Albania’s parliamentary election