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Albanian Opposition Broadens Political Boycott

The old adage about politics being done in a smoke-filled room has special meaning in Europe’s ‘marijuana capital.’

19 April 2017

Albania’s opposition parties planned to sit out the first round of presidential voting in parliament today as their battle of attrition with the ruling Socialists rolls on.


Hoping to bring the center-right opposition back into the political process, the ruling Socialists and their coalition partners from the Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI) did not put forward a candidate for today’s vote, Prime Minister Edi Rama (pictured) said Monday, according to Balkan Insight.


Earlier, Rama and LSI leader Ilir Meta said they would ask for help from European Union center-right parties to convince the opposition to drop its two-month boycott of parliament and threat not to participate in the June parliamentary elections, which they say could be manipulated with money from drug barons.


The olive branch appeared to cut no ice with the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha.


“There will be no election in Albania without a technical [caretaker] government,” Basha said, as quoted by The Associated Press. “There won’t be any other way.”


The Democratic Party and its allies are camped out in a tent in front of Rama’s office, spreading their claims that cabinet members are in cahoots with the illegal marijuana growers whose businesses pump billions into the grey economy annually.


Those claims will probably be bolstered by this week’s arrests of two dozen police and customs officers suspected of trying to smuggle tons of marijuana out of the country.


Those arrested include the police chief of the country’s main port, Durres, and four anti-drug specialists, Reuters reports.


They are accused of setting up a network to smuggle drugs to Italy in trucks, the general prosecutor’s office said.


Italian police seized a truck from Durres headed for Belgium with eight metric tons of marijuana on 5 February, and a second truck from the port, carrying 2.2 metric tons, on 24 March.



  • Albanian heads of state are chosen by parliament. If no candidate is elected after five rounds of voting, parliament is dissolved and new elections called.


  • The ruling coalition parties have enough parliamentary support to choose the next holder of the largely symbolic post, Balkan Insight says.


  • In a recent interview, Rama said a union between Albania and Kosovo could be on the cards if prospects fade for their eventual EU membership.


  • “No one would like to turn [in] on themselves and look for smaller unions, everyone would like to unite in the big union. But if there’s no hope, no perspective, no space, then, of course, little unions may happen,” Rama told Politico.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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