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Dossier

When laws and the Constitution are changed to deform democracy, Berisha and Rama alienated the "holy document" in 2008 by phone to monopolize politics, here are the "crimes" committed against the political system in the country

When laws and the Constitution are changed to deform democracy, Berisha and Rama

Albania is going through the most critical political period in the history of pluralism, as after 33 years the country is heading towards a total autocracy and the collapse of the parliamentary opposition. However, despite the responsibility of the current political leaders of the country, where most of the blame belongs to the Socialist Party in power, reaching this hopeless point of the political and state system of Albania seems not to have been accidental, on the contrary, it was planned with the passing of the years, where every party that secured the scepter of power, both the SP and the PD, "shouted" and "armored" the laws and the Constitution according to their appetite, in order to extend their "life" at the head of the country. But, after 33 years, the way political parties operate, the continuous strengthening of the 2 big parties, the scandalous abuses of power, the economic degradation of the country by tenders and fearful corrupt investments, social frustration, etc., have brought society to a depressing point, so much so that it seems to be accepting easily and surrendered, the installation of an authoritarian regime. The two parties that have led the country in these 33 years, SP and PD, have interfered many times in the "sacred document" of the Constitution by patching changes, provisions, powers always in their favor according to the legislature. But, what is considered the biggest political crime in the history of the transition in Albania, in addition to numerous economic and social tragedies, which have cost thousands of lives, is the amendment of the Constitution on April 21, 2008, with the agreement of the DP and SP. These "historical" constitutional and Western changes, as Sali Berisha considered them 15 years ago, produced a continuous and uninterrupted destruction of political democracy, the functioning of the state, the bipolarization of society and which concludes today with the absolute personalization of the power of the majority leader, simultaneously and the country's prime minister. After 15 years, voices inside and outside the political sphere insist on the repeal of the constitutional amendments of 2008, but the political class has lacked the will, desire and above all the idea that these constitutional annexes should be "thrown in the trash". "TODAY" newspaper will publish how the two largest parties in the country, as never before, joined forces to dominate the political life in the country for the next years and decades, as 9 deputies from small parties, among them the president of today of the Freedom Party, Ilir Meta, went on hunger strike,
What were the constitutional amendments of 2008? Berisha and Rama solved it by phone
After 3 years in power and at the head of the opposition, the Prime Minister of the time Sali Berisha and Edi Rama decided 7 months of negotiations to brutally intervene in the Constitution of Albania. Years later, many voices from the SP, DP and the former Socialist Movement for Integration have denounced that the Constitution of Albania was changed with a telephone conversation between Berisha and Ramë, with the aim of expelling from the Parliament, the head of the LSI at that time, Ilir Meta, who had become an enemy of the leaders of the government and the opposition. After months of preparation, DP and SP combined votes on April 21, 2008 (115 votes in favor) to give absolute power to their parties in any type of power change scenario. The changes were decreed by the then president Bamir Topi in October 2008. These constitutional changes contained a series of radical constitutional interventions: the electoral system was changed from mixed majority to regional proportional, the President of the Republic is no longer elected by a qualified majority, but by a minimum majority (71 votes) in the fourth and fifth rounds, the Attorney General will not have unlimited mandates, but will rule in a 5-year term, the Central Election Commission will be reformed and the number of members increased from 7 to 9, to give the opportunity to the 2 parties of the time, LSI and the Democratic Party, to have a voice and vote in the commission. Also, the People's Advocate will be elected by a qualified majority, which means, if a party in power does not have 84 MPs alone or in a coalition, it must seek the help of the opposition. These opinions influenced the establishment and operation of justice institutions, such as: the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, The Supreme Council of Justice and the bodies that followed later. But, a terrible aspect that cannot be neglected, which was proven in the following years, is that only the prime minister can initiate a vote of confidence in the government, while the opposition has no power. However, the "Achilles' heel" lies in the electoral system.
Why was the electoral system changed? 2008 paved the way for the SP-PD oligopoly in politics
In 2008, DP and SP reasoned that the phenomenon where MPs become "unpaid" in the areas where they compete and manage to gain power through clientelism, corruption, close interests with the 2 big parties must be put to an end. The confrontation between the candidates in the electoral zones was ignored and dismissed without any concern by the democratic and socialist deputies. Instead of this system, the proportional-regional electoral system was applied, where candidates do not need to engage individually in the campaign, but it is enough to be positioned on the candidate lists, according to preference and relations with party leaders. This caused many people without a major public contribution to politics to be strongly engaged in the Albanian political scene, but destroying the credibility of the electorates and strengthening the role and power of party leaders. Moreover, for years, the lists of candidates for deputies were kept closed, hiding many pacts and compromises of petty profit interests. This caused that for years, no real generations of politicians were created, but simply "levers" of the party leadership. Today, this model of candidate selection and voting has been contested and attacked continuously in the media and the whole society. This electoral model led to the purge of small parties and their candidates to compete with the lists of the traditional PD and SP parties. In addition, the proportional regional system made it impossible to change the political system in Albania, forcing the country to always follow the "SP-PD" tracks. This caused that for years, no real generations of politicians were created, but simply "levers" of the party leadership. Today, this model of candidate selection and voting has been contested and attacked continuously in the media and the whole society. This electoral model led to the purge of small parties and their candidates to compete with the lists of the traditional PD and SP parties. In addition, the proportional regional system made it impossible to change the political system in Albania, forcing the country to always follow the "SP-PD" tracks. This caused that for years, no real generations of politicians were created, but simply "levers" of the party leadership. Today, this model of candidate selection and voting has been contested and attacked continuously in the media and the whole society. This electoral model led to the purge of small parties and their candidates to compete with the lists of the traditional PD and SP parties. In addition, the proportional regional system made it impossible to change the political system in Albania, forcing the country to always follow the "SP-PD" tracks. This electoral model led to the purge of small parties and their candidates to compete with the lists of the traditional PD and SP parties. In addition, the proportional regional system made it impossible to change the political system in Albania, forcing the country to always follow the "SP-PD" tracks. This electoral model led to the purge of small parties and their candidates to compete with the lists of the traditional PD and SP parties. In addition, the proportional regional system made it impossible to change the political system in Albania, forcing the country to always follow the "SP-PD" tracks.
The absurdity of 2008, there was no referendum and the jurists were ignored by politics
. What was unprecedented about the constitutional changes of 2008 was the fact that in 1991, 1992, 1994 and 1998, these proposals did not even take into account the opinion of the constitutionalists. , jurists, but above all they were not even voted in a popular referendum, unlike previous cases. This led to the "de facto" annihilation of the power of the referendum in political life in Albania for years to come. Today, the ex-president and currently the chairman of PL, Ilir Meta, trumpeted the reactivation of the referendum procedure.
The hunger strike of Meta, Koç and 8 other MPs in the Assembly, this is how they expressed themselves
In November 2008, MPs from small parties threatened a hunger strike in the premises of the Parliament if the head of state at the time, Bamir Topi, decreed the constitutional changes voted on April 21, 2008 with 115 votes of the majority and the opposition. Initially, Ilir Meta, Dashamir Shehi, Nard Ndoka, Spartak Ngjela, and Petro Koçi met in villa no. 4 and after finding the silence of the president, they went on strike. Ilir Meta, Spartak Braho, Pëllumb Xhufi, Ndre Legisi, Dritan Prifti, Nikollaq Neranxi (LSI), Petro Koçi (PSV-91) and Nard Ndoka, Ymer Tola and Frrok Gjini from PDK were involved in this strike. They accused SP and DP of distorting the electoral process in Albania, guaranteeing their electoral empowerment, destroying democracy with the changes in the Electoral Code and CEC, etc. Meta started the political war against Berisha and Rama, accusing them of changing the Constitution arbitrarily and clandestinely. He even accused his former colleague Rama, with whom he would reconcile 5 years later, of turning into a powerful man just like Prime Minister Sali Berisha. "The Constitution of Albania cannot be changed, neither clandestinely, nor corruptly, nor arbitrarily to create not one, but two Berishas in Albania", said Meta in those years.
Moikom Zeqo: 2008 led to the mandates of deputies being bought
On June 11, 2019, almost 1 year before he passed away from a serious illness on June 15, 2020, the intellectual Moikom Zeqo expressed harsh criticism of the famous constitutional changes of 2008. In an interview for "Report TV", Zeqo stated that the political class in Albania is getting degraded because of the election model, where anonymous people pay to be included in the list of deputies, just like professors and doctors who pay to get titles. This phenomenon, called "buying mandates" has spread widely in the Albanian state. "This horrendous change to the Constitution of 2008 has taken Albania hostage, it has made all 140 deputies elected in the Parliament of Albania with a four-year structure who, instead of being the best people who make Albania, are the worst people rich, those who pay, as they pay and receive the titles of professors, doctors or even that they have finished higher schools, when they have not finished it yet and are also anonymous. Deputies of the early years, '92-'96, from all political parties were much more knowledgeable and distinguished and courageous. Then it happened that the personality disappeared, because the black alchemy of the changes of 2008 meant that you are on the list of the chairman of the party and of the parties and you are a clone", said former MP Zeqo in 2019.
Aurela Anastasi: The constitution is not made only by politicians
On February 24, 2014, the constitutionalist Aurela Anastasi stated in an interview for "JAVA" Magazine that the political class in Albania should give up constitutional changes with accelerated procedures, excluding interest groups from the debate, and furthermore, there should be no return after the past models of the Constitution. According to her, different social factors should contribute to the constitutional amendments, not only the deputies and the political class in Albania. "Today, when we raise issues related to amendments to the Constitution, bringing to attention the changes of 2008, we learn two main lessons: first of all, we must no longer allow changes to the Constitution to be carried out only by the political class and through formal and quick procedures, without discussion, without debate, without expertise and without the participation of different community groups; secondly, we should not allow constitutional changes to be carried out just as a punishment for what happened in 2008. So, we cannot say that today is the time to change the Constitution to return to the original version of the Constitution of 1998. We will look ahead and only integration can justify changes in the Constitution, in this situation", declared Anastasi years ago.
Former head of GJK Abdiu: Here is the paradox with the Ombudsman and the President
In August 2011, the former president of the Constitutional Court, Fehmi Abdiu, criticized the constitutional changes of 2008. For the newspaper "Panorama", he called it anachronistic that the President of Albania is elected with a minimum majority, according to the strength of the party in power, while the People's Advocate , a position much lower in the state hierarchy compared to the president, to be elected by qualified majority. "But he (the President) has been hit a lot, because the way he was elected has been changed, giving the majority the opportunity to choose much more easily than the Ombudsman, because I appreciate that too. But it is anachronistic that the People's Advocate is elected with a qualified majority, while the President of the Republic can be chosen by majorities as they wish. This has resulted in a majority, however weak,
Abdiu: The 2008 Constitution will bring the President into conflict with the Parliament
Secondly, the former president of the Constitutional Court in the years 1998-2004, Fehmi Abdiu, severely criticized the fact that the Parliament and the President will have constant clashes in terms of appointments in the justice system, as much as it weakened the powers of the head of state. "Secondly, the 2008 changes seriously damaged the President in another aspect, because he heads the KLD, a very important and prestigious body, from which the other Justice bodies derive. You have recently noticed a clash between the President and the Parliament regarding the approval of the candidacies of constitutional and senior judges, which, in my opinion, has created a paradoxical situation in Albania that I do not believe anyone understands how to act ”, declared Fehmi Abdiu 12 years ago.
Afrim Krasniqi: The 2008 Constitution created the 'super prime minister'
Even the former advisor of the president Bamir Topi in the years 2010-2012, Afrim Krasniqi, who has been leading the Institute of Political Studies for years, has strongly criticized the constitutional changes of 2008. On May 28, 2021, in a statement for "A2 CNN", he declared that the change of prime ministers by the Parliament is almost impossible, since with this electoral system, groups of deputies in the majority cannot be created to dismiss a prime minister with a motion of no confidence. This means that the party that has all the powers can choose which prime minister want. In this way, Krasniqi considers the position of the head of the Council of Ministers as "super prime minister". "Here, the prime minister is dismissed not when the majority of the parliament is against him, but when the majority supports another candidate. In the history of Europe, this has happened only once. Separation of power is not accepted. Their right is considered unlimited. This is one of the reasons why we have had constant conflicts between these institutions. As long as this report does not change, it is not surprising that we will have similar situations in the future", said Krasniqi for "A2 CNN" in 2021.
Berisha's "vindication": The 2008 Constitution guaranteed the regionalization of parties
In the show "Open" on "News 24" on May 5, 2022, former Prime Minister Sali Berisha, now in the role of the "de facto" leader of the DP, defended the constitutional changes of 2008. He justified these interventions in the electoral system as an opportunity for SP and PD to have deputies, representatives in all areas of Albania, that is, regionalization. Berisha allegedly used as a pretext that there were areas where the SP and PD did not have MPs, that is, the respective strongholds. "What was the essence of the change of 2008? The essence has been regionalization. I was in favor, because the SP, a big party, was left without a single deputy from Fushë Kruja in Vermosh, and this was not right, because there were socialists everywhere, and they had no representatives. The same was said about the DP in entire districts. There is nothing else in that law, except that it guarantees regionalization", was Berisha's reasoning.
Meta, beneficiary of "2008": We made the Constitution in pieces!
Years later, 22 days before he was elected president of the country with the votes of his SP and LSI and at the time when Lulzim Basha had raised the "tent" in front of the Prime Minister's office to not enter the 2017 parliamentary elections, Meta considered the constitutional changes of 2008 as destructive for the democracy of the state and political parties. On April 6, 2017, in the show "Arena" on "Ora News", Meta estimated that these constitutional changes of the SP and DP, with which he cooperated strongly from 2009 to 2017, polarized society and created a great conflict. "We have torn the Constitution to pieces since 2008. It is important and valid when it rests on democratic elections. I never forget the hunger strike of 2008. We made a tent inside the Parliament. There, the principles of control and balance of powers were hit hard. Undoubtedly, there have been quite negative effects for the entire political life, which has been reflected in the great weakening of the internal democracy of the parties due to the way the lists are made. We can say that this code brought from the risk that Albanians will make elections, in conflictual bipolar elections. In 2008, that hunger strike made me sensitive not only to the issue of elections, but also to those who are in the tent today", said Meta in 2017.
Lulzim Basha: The 2008 Constitution does not respond to the screaming needs of society
Of the political leaders after 2008, Lulzim Basha was among the few politicians who demanded the undoing of the constitutional changes of 2008. On August 30, 2021, after being voted in for the third time, even though he lost the parliamentary elections of April 25, 2021, Basha declared in the National Council of the Democratic Party that the Constitution with the 2008 amendments no longer serves society as it has destroyed the balance of power and is changing democracy in the country. "It is already clear that the constitutional changes of 2008 no longer fit the screaming need of the Albanian society for more democracy, for the control and balance of powers, so to end the capture of the state, radical changes are needed that must come as a joint reflection and action of the Democratic Party and intellectuals, students, lecturers, entrepreneurs, artists, journalists,
Decreed the Berisha-Rama Pact, Topi: The 2008 Constitution was made with clandestine talks
On November 4, 2015, 3 years after ending his mandate as president, Bamir Topi, head of the Fryma e Re Demokratike party, condemned the constitutional changes of 2008, which he described as having been carried out by clandestine telephone conversations between Berisha and Rama. He condemned the political leaders in the country who never apologized for these "assassinations" against the Constitution. However, Topi decreed in 2008 the much-debatable changes to the Constitution and never explained why he did this act, when in fact he had reservations and objections in himself. "It's been 8 years since April 2008, when in one night, as you remember, the Constitution of the Republic of Albania was changed with a distorted will based on clandestine conversations, bringing damage to democracy in Albania. I applaud the voices that refer to that date for the negative effects that sudden change had,
Dashamir Shehi in 2023: Overturn the Rama-Berisha pact for the 2008 Constitution
The MP of the opposition and the chairman of the Movement for National Development, Dashamir Shehi, demanded the undoing of the constitutional changes of 2008, which he described as having been carried out and approved by the duo Berisha-Rama. One of the protagonists of the opposition to this infamous initiative in 2008, Shehi reasoned on February 20, 2023 for "Euronews" that with this Constitution, the prime minister in Albania controls every institution and, moreover, strengthens the political life of Berisha and Rama. "Rotation is no longer enough. Essential fundamental change is needed. Change is needed in every field of Albanian public life. We need the overthrow of the Rama-Berisha agreement in 2008. The overthrow of this constitutional system. According to the agreement, the Prime Minister is the president of the Assembly, he is the president of the Supreme Court, he is the Governor of the Bank. Albania is destined to be run by only two people", said Shehi.

 

 

 

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