A solo episode with Hugh in response to a Patreon question box question. What is up with the Albanian local elections? What’s the deal with that?

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Show Notes

## Also happening…

Albania is a place still

From our suggestion box Diarmuid Burke asks: The 2019 Albanian local elections. Loads of major parties didn’t take part in protest of the Government and the whole thing looks to be a shit show.

Background

People may remember there were mass protests against rises in student tuition fees that went on for months earlier this year… that was something very much on the surface of what is a barely functioning system.

  • The Judiciary is largely (especially at the high levels) suspended awaiting vetting into their finances (a 2016 law aimed at cleaning up the system)… this plays in again later

  • The parliament isn’t really functioning because all the opposition parties are protesting its legitimacy. Over 40 of the 140 MPs resigned in protest in March (www.euronews.com )- so not all but a large chunk. The EU “condemned” this move…

  • The President called to delay the local elections because the opposition were planning on boycotting… He wanted it to be delayed until October.. Rada overruled him with the election commission siding with Rada and holding the elections.

So?

Well Rama’s Socialist party ran unopposed in half of the regions and against “weak” candidates in the other half.

www.aljazeera.com

What’s their beef?

Well…

The opposition parties don’t agree on much.. but they all think Rada was involved in electoral fraud and mass corruption. They have some solid ground about Rama…

For a start there’s people in the Socialist party who have some bad history with the former communist establishment (Rama nominated the interior minister at the time involved in crackdowns on protests as speaker of the house)

Then there’s the tapes… They were floating around after some transcripts were posted online in January but Bild (everyone’s favourite piece of garbage) published the recordings in June. They’re not great.

There’s recordings of Socialist party officials talking about how to buy votes with known organised crime gang Durrës. There’s also tapes of Rama talking with other party members about the conspiracy… showing he knew it was happening.

This triggered June 10th mass protests - which meant the President wanted to cancel the elections. Rama says he’s looking into impeachment because of this… The court that would normally adjudicate these conflicts is again not in session…

Some fun aftermath:

  • Rama is planning on suing the journalist Peter Tiede who published the wiretaps..

  • The Albanian prosecutors are investigating the leak but don’t appear to be doing anything about the information on the tapes (it’s been almost 3 years - these relate to the 2017 election…)

  • They’re also investigating the opposition leader for links to a Russian company alleged to be a plot to destabilise Albania… Which I mean.. yeah probably it is.

exit.al balkaninsight.com www.dw.com

International Observers say what?

The EU and US have generally been cool with the election happening and against the government protests. Why? Because Rama is doing the reforms they want. Long term they think the status quo is fine as long as the judicial and other reforms continue, regardless of the shorter term problems for actual Albanians.

It’s generally messy and isn’t going to get resolved soon. This is probably one of the few times I think installing a technocratic government to keep things ticking along for a while and replace everyone running the prosecutor’s office in the process is probably the sensible outcome.