- May 17, 2021
On May 17, 2021, the Aspen Institute Germany hosted an online discussion on the topic “Albania After the Elections – What’s Next?” with Alba Çela, Executive Director, Albanian Institute for International Studies, Stine Klapper, Head of Office, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Tirana, and Ambassador Susanne Schütz, Director for South-Eastern Europe, Turkey, OSCE and Council of Europe, German Federal Foreign Office. The discussion was moderated by Valeska Esch, Deputy Executive Director and Program Director Europe, Aspen Institute Germany.
On April 25, the ruling Socialist Party (PS) won the parliamentary elections and Prime Minister Edi Rama is likely heading toward a third term in office. The Democratic Party (PD) came in second although the opposition has boycotted parliament for two years. The opposition’s participation in the parliamentary elections was a result of a rare compromise between the two biggest parties that led to a reform of the electoral law. In March 2020, the European Council agreed to the opening of EU accession negotiations with Albania under a series of conditions. Albania was urged to make further progress on reforms, especially judicial reforms, and in the fight against organized crime and corruption. A date for the first intergovernmental conference has yet to be set.
In the discussion, the progress of the electoral reforms so far was seen positively, especially with regard to its first practice test in the general elections in late April. The relatively peaceful elections indicated a move in the right direction for Albania. However, the importance of transparency by the government and professionalism by the newly reformed justice institutions going forward was underlined, especially in addressing complaints of vote buying and corruption in the elections, in order to strengthen public trust in the democratic process and to promote constructive parliamentary work with the opposition. The discussion also highlighted the mutual strategic importance for Albania and the EU of continuing the EU accession process, especially in light of the growing influence of other foreign actors in the country. While the Albanian public generally has a positive view of the EU, there were calls for progress in starting the accession talks, particularly a timeline for the first intergovernmental conference. Finally, the importance of regional political and economic cooperation was underscored, especially in order to reduce long-standing polarizing tensions in the region.
The virtual discussion was part of the Aspen Berlin Policy Hub for think tanks from the Western Balkans, a project funded by the Open Society Foundations and the German Federal Press Agency.