Everyone’s Prime Minister, campaigning for ‘’his own’’
It should be emphasized out-front that the electoral campaign for local elections has included the entire activity of the Prime Minister of Albania within the fence of party leader. For the second month in a row during almost every public appearance and its factual activity, the Prime Minister has been nothing more than the leader of SP. A little attention suffices to see that the weekly diary of the Council of Ministers has not been programmed since May 29. It is the first time since February 2014, when the diary was first published, that its publication was suspended.
At the peak of the electoral campaign the Prime Minister did however find time to invite Italian investors with the slogan: ‘’In Albania you can open an enterprise in 8 hours by paying 1 Euro’’. In the meantime, during a Council of Ministers meeting on June 10, the Deputy Prime Minister, in the absence Prime Minister Rama, signed a decision on ‘’Approving procedures to transfer material and non-material rights and obligations, personnel, activities of archives and any other official documentation in local government units, affected by the administrative-territorial re-organization’’. The transfer of rights and obligations from Communes to the new Municipalities can be conducted simply with a Decision of the Council of Ministers apparently, however this happens only after the new legal framework has been designed and enforced regarding the existence and functioning of the new units. This has not happened yet and will not happen any time soon.
On the other hand, a decision to congratulate was taken during the meeting of the Council of Ministers on June 18 regarding: Approving in principle the council of Europe convention ‘’On falsifying medical products and similar crimes that constitute a threat to public health’’. This means that falsifying medical products will be an infringement that the Albanian state will punish based on obligations arising from signing the convention and simultaneously the protection of citizens from falsified products will be an obligation for the state, based on the convention.
While during the campaign each of us had the opportunity to watch countless young people cheering and waving flags of political parties, INSTAT published a report on the working force, where among key findings we can read that: ‘’for young people between 15 and 29 years old unemployment is 34,1%’’. This figures is at best double that of the EU. The same report offers also contradictory figures such as: ‘’The number of unemployed has increased by 103.945 people’’ afterwards ‘’The number of unemployed has increased by 3.279’’ or: ‘’The level of unemployment for women has remained at the same level, 16,8%, while for men it has dropped by 2,2 percentage points’’. Not wanting to make unfounded assumptions, it must be clarified that these statistics were not ordered in the framework of the local election campaign, to support figures publicly proclaimed by the Prime Minister. This contradiction is illustrated in an article by MAPO, which says: ‘’Compared to the previous year there was an increase in the level of unemployment, with 1,5 percentage points’’ and that: ‘’Compared to the previous year employment rose by 1,3%’’. The Prime Minister should issue a public declaration, after conducting a serious study. He should explain where the truth lies and where does the government stand compared to the promise of opening 300 000 new jobs, one of the promises that brought him in power.
Elections as state and government responsibility
Organizing elections is always the responsibility of the party in power and the current government. Good or bad, organization of elections brings consequences or progress for the state. For years, in transition countries, reports from international observation missions, enjoy a special respect due to the objectivity they bring and the professionalism. Even in Albania, reports of election observation from an institution like OSCE/ODIHR, have presented us with flaws and respective recommendations. The evaluation is made to determine if elections are in line with OSCE commitments and Council of Europe standards as well as other international standards for democratic elections as well as the domestic legislation. On the report for the 2015 elections there are serious remarks and elements that need improvement. From a general perspective we can extrapolate from the report that: ‘’…while continuous politicization of state institutions damaged the efficient administration of the electoral process’’. A direct responsibility of the Prime Minister, who asked at Kapital show on Vizion +, regarding the engagement of his government in the electoral campaign, responded with cynicism that fuel spent from state vehicles will be compensated from personal wages. Furthermore, the report emphasizes that ‘’The lack of legal clarity brought the inconsistent implementation of the legislation, which often was perceived along party lines’’ or ‘’The results from media monitoring of the OSCE/ODIHR EOM showed that all television channels monitored, including the public broadcaster favored one of the big parties in covering their election campaign. Even though it is required by law, the CEC did not subject these stations to fines for violations of provisions regarding impartial coverage of competitors’’. This is an indicator of the complete lack of transparence and impartiality on the side of the current government. Of course the most alarming part of the report is illustrated in the following segment: ‘’Renown personalities from governing parties distribute legalization certificates in campaign activities and a number of candidates from the Alliance of European Albania used state activities and resources blurring thus the line between state and party and violating paragraph 5.4 of the Copenhagen document of the OSCE from 1990’’. For example, on June 1st Mr. Veliaj was together with Mr. Rama and the Minister for Education and Sports to start construction works for the Olympic Park in Tirana.
All these developments have not yielded any positive results for public policies in the Prime Minister’s Office. Especially if we keep in mind the fact that the Prime Minister has promised EU institutions that Albania will have delivered on its 5 key priorities by fall of this year.
1- Webi zyrtar i Këshillit të Ministrave: Lajme
2- Webi zyrtar i Këshillit të Ministrave: Fjalime
3- Webi zyrtar i Këshillit të Ministrave: Vendime
4- Artikull i “Die Standard” ne ABC News
5-Statistikat e papunësisë në BE.
6- Artikull mbi papunësinë në Shqipëri nga MAPO.al
7- Raporti i OSBE/ODIHR, mbi zgjedhjet lokale në Shqipëri, 2015.
8- Intervistë e Kryeministrit në Vizion+ TV
9-Reporter.al, artikull mbi pasqyrimin e fushatës në median publike.