Albania in Transition: The Rocky Road to Democracy

Albania in Transition: The Rocky Road to Democracy

Albania in Transition: The Rocky Road to Democracy

Albania in Transition: The Rocky Road to Democracy

Synopsis

Providing a detailed political profile of Albania since 1989, this volume traces the country's transition from one party to many and from a command economy to a market economy.

Excerpt

Albania, like other postcommunist East Central European countries, has been undergoing a multiple transition: a political transition from one party to many, an economic transition from command to market economy, and a national security transition in an unpredictable, post-Cold War international security regime. For nearly half a century one of the most repressive communist dictatorships in the world, economically impoverished, and lacking a democratic political culture, Albania was considered one of the least likely countries in the region to complete the transition to a stable and prosperous democracy. Since the March 1992 elections, when the Albanian Democratic Party defeated the former Communists, Albania has undergone profound political, economic, and social transformations. The Communist-era constitution has been thoroughly revised, a new institutional architecture is largely in place, and the relationship between the state and the citizen has undergone fundamental change. Nonetheless, more recent developments have uncovered political-economic land mines on the Albanian road to democracy. The May 1996 parliamentary elections were marred by serious irregularities and opposition boycotts, which undermined faith in the country's democratization process.

Albanian democracy suffered a further setback in early 1997, when the collapse of fraudulent pyramid schemes sparked violent unrest and armed revolt, plunging the country into its worst political and economic crisis since the downfall of communism. By March, the ruling Democratic Party was forced to form a coalition government with the opposition and to agree to early parliamentary elections. Meanwhile, the international community dispatched a multinational protection force of 6,000 under a U.N. mandate to contain new mass emigration by desperate Albanians, which would further destabilize Albania and might set off a dangerous ripple effect across the entire Balkan region. The June 1997 elections resulted in a landslide victory for the opposition Socialist Party. The balloting represented a significant affirmation of democracy, as the country's main political actors in both major parties showed a renewed commitment to democratic norms and procedures. Nonetheless, having experienced a comprehensive breakdown of state authority and a serious political disorder, Albania still faces enormous . . .

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