Albania’s election victors

The official results of Albania’s elections may not have been announced yet, but it is already clear that two victors emerged from these polls. The first is Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha, who will take power in the next few days. And however paradoxical it may sound, the second winner is Hellenism. For the first time, Albanian politicians not only steered clear of their usual anti-Greek rhetorical flourishes but they publicly, and passionately, sparred over who enjoys the Greek government’s favor. Berisha, well known for his anti-Greek stance in the past, has radically changed his views over Greece and the Greek minority in Albania over the past few years. This 180-degree switch did not just happen. It is the result of the efforts of extremely capable Greek diplomats in Tirana. The second great victory is the great gains achieved by KEAD, the party representing the Greek minority in Albania. In previous elections it only managed to scrape through with 2.56 percent of votes, just over the minimum, despite having run in alliance with the Socialist Party. This time around it amassed 4.3 percent of the vote without any big-party support. It gained this support despite the dirty war by Fatos Nano’s then-ruling party and the divisions it had attempted to sow among the Greek minority. The July 3 polls served to consolidate KEAD as an independent party and justified the Greek minority’s choice to have an independent presence on the national political stage to defend human rights. Most Greek officials had treated the subject with caution, but Berisha has already invited KEAD to join the new government. Party leader Vangelis Doulis is justified in feeling that his party’s very nature dictates its conditional participation in any government – depending on further Albanian reforms.

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