Sunday, May 19, 2024

TUTTI ALBANESI, TUTTI KOMANDANTI 

To avoid misunderstandings, right from the beginning I would like to present a brief history of elections in the country, including efforts to form coalitions, define what the coalition means and to identify the factors that enable or disable these collaborations.

Author: Xhelal Neziri

On April 12, 1939, fascist Italy occupied Albania at that time ruled by King Ahmet Zogu. The operation lasted five days because Zogu made no resistance. The Italians surprised by the ease of the occupation, had immediately begun to build a new power in Albania, where they planned to build a hierarchy composed mainly of locals. However, they had a major problem in appointing heads of institutions, the army or police. All had competed and insisted on being heads, directors or commanders. After a long time when they had chosen one, the others had gone to the opposite line – the partisans. And since then, the phrase that best defines ethnic Albanians in North Macedonia is known – tutti albanesi, tutti commandantti (all Albanians, all commanders).

On April 12, 2020, exactly after 81 years, in North Macedonia are expected parliamentary elections to be held, earlier this time too. Since the 2006 elections, the country has held a total of four pairs of parliamentary elections – all early ones. Before every election, the ethnic Albanians have the same theme: the need for pre-election coalitions. The subject becomes so hot that public debate usually turns into collective frustration, which then produces obscenities and labeling.

To avoid misunderstandings, right from the beginning I would like to present a brief history of elections in the country, including efforts to form coalitions, define what the coalition means and to identify the factors that enable or disable these collaborations.

CONSPIRATIVE CULPRITS THAT DESTROYS THE COALITIONS

In the political history of the Albanians of North Macedonia, only two cases of pre-election coalitions are recorded: the first in 1998, made by the PDP and DPA; the second one was in 2008 made between DUI and PDP. Over all this time, in the last three decades, Albanian political spectrum have consistently failed to cluster into two main ideological coalitions – left and right – as is the case with the political spectrum of ethnic Macedonians, where always prevail the leading coalition from VMRO-DPMNE and LSDM.

When in the 2011 parliamentary elections the opposition consisted of Menduh Thaci’s Albanian Democratic Party (DPA) and Rufi Osman’s National Democratic Renaissance (RDK) failed to form an electoral coalition, the culprit was found to be the leader of the first opposition party. It was said that Thaci had undermined the coalition with the RDK, as well as with the New Democracy (DR) of Imer Selman that had split from the DPA, in order to enable Ali Ahmeti’s Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) another election victory. This hypothesis was widely accepted by most of the public opinion as a true story, circulating in restaurants, chambers, cafes and teahouses.

In the early parliamentary elections of 2014 there was again no coalition between DPA and RDK. DUI won 19 seats in these elections, DPA – 7 seats, and RDK only one. The Democratic Prosperity Party (PDP) also ran in this election, but did not receive enough votes to win at least one mandate. Even in these elections, the label of the culprit for not reaching the coalition was hung to Thaci, while as the director of this scenario it was said that it was Ahmeti again.

In the 2016 parliamentary elections, which came because of a deep political crisis in the country, really happened what the Italians called “tutti albanesi, tutti commandanti”. A total of 6 Albanian parties competed – DUI, BESA, ASH, DPA, UNITETI and PDP, of which the first four won seats in Parliament.  The only coalition in this election was the Alliance for Albanians, formed by the LR-DPA and Ziadin Sela, a fraction emerging from Thaci’s DPA, and Vesel Mehmeti’s RDK, which inherited Osman as the head of the party. For the failure that ASH and BESA to be part of the opposition this time was not blamed Thaci but Ahmeti. The latter was simultaneously labeled as the director and executor of the opposition disruption.

Now, before the elections of April 12 next year, instead of congestion we have two political entities dissolved: from BESA the Alternative was split, and from the coalition, ASH (now party name) came out of the RDK of Mehmet. This political segregation seems to impede any further coalition, especially in the opposition, and the culprit will again be the “other” – emerging from the conspiracy theories of the study circles and the teahouses.

WHAT DOES COALITION MEAN?

In the last election cycles, the turnout of the Albanian voters did not exceed 34 per cent. For comparison, in the 2002 or 1998 parliamentary elections, the turnout among Albanians was over 65 percent. In addition to the lack of offers as a mobilizing energy for positive change, the lack of coalitions is also estimated to have a demotivating role for the Albanian voter.

And what does the word “coalition” really mean, from which so many political parties have allergy? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, coalition means bringing together different political parties for a common purpose of general interest, usually for a limited time, or for a Government that has a particular set of problems. In other words, if two or more people travel from Tetovo to Skopje for a general good, then they choose only one means of transport to reach the goal, rather than everyone traveling by their own car.

There are several reasons why coalition between ethnic Macedonians in North Macedonia resembles the Hidden Bridge, which was built by day but destroyed at night. The first reason is to understand politics as the path to power, controlling or doing business, by giving no account of the promises made, the programs and party platforms.

The second reason is coming into power as a partner in business, and not as a party with the political will and legitimacy taken by the voter, who must be served.

The third reason is the lack and promotion of a real political offer for the Albanian citizen, where a direct link will be made between the party platform and the real needs of the Albanians as human beings.

Finally, the fourth reason is the clientelist prism of understanding democracy by a sizeable part of the Albanian electorate, which chooses politicians in the same way, views elections as a very concrete individual opportunity.

WHO ARE THE LEADERS?

Leaders are key persons who are meritorious but also responsible for (not) making coalitions. They are not as distinct from most of those who have as their supporters. In fact, leaders are defined as archetypes (universal models, prototypes) that incorporate the collective features of the people they represent. They have not fallen from heaven, but are his mirror!

Central Company Registry data shows that in regions where ethnic Albanians are the majority, only 2 percent of companies have more than one owner. So, 98 percent of registered companies are owned by only one person. The number of joint stock companies, whereas owners appear more than one of more physical or legal persons, is zero

This Albanian selfishness seems to confirm the thesis of the Italians from World War II. At the same time, it is an indicator of a lack of basic trust in interpersonal relations, a deficiency that produces numerous obstacles to building political coalitions or even business partnerships.

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