Albania’s opposition Democrats in disarray

by Cristian Florescu

Delegates at an assembly called by former Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha at Tirana stadium on December 11 voted overwhelmingly to oust the party’s current leader Lulzim Basha, write

Berisha has been trying to oust Basha as party leader ever since he was made persona non grata by the US — where diplomats said he was involved in “significant corruption” — in May, prompting Basha to expel him from the party’s parliamentary group. 

Following a tour of the country to drum up support among Democratic Party members, Berisha hosted his unofficial national assembly at the Air Albania Stadium in Tirana, with a huge turnout.  Of the 4,934 delegates who attended the assembly,  4,446 voted in favour of dismissing Basha while a mere 36 were against. 

Delegates at the assembly called by Berisha also voted on a new statute for the party and presented a new symbol and seal.

Berisha dominated the political scene as prime minister and president from 1991 to 2013. He was Albania’s second post-communist president, holding the post from 1992 to 1997, going on to become prime minister from 2005 to 2013, which makes him Albania’s longest-serving democratically elected leader. He twice headed the Democratic Party, which has been in opposition since he resigned in 2013 when the Democrats were ousted from power by the Socialists led by Albania’s current prime minister, Edi Rama. 

After the loss of the April 2021 election – which Basha called an “electoral massacre” and claimed was rigged – several high ranking members of the Democratic Party called on him to resign. However, he successfully stood for re-election as party leader in the summer leadership election. 

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