There were three phases in the first decade of post-communist Albania. The first began when President Alia, who was of the ‘old guard’, having succeeded Hoxha in 1985, was confronted with demands for change resulting from the overall collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. His answer was to appoint in January 1990 a new cabinet led by a member of the pre-reformed party, A. Carcani, and designed to bring about reforms in both the economy and politics. Reforms were, perhaps inevitably, slow to come. There was little economic change and political change seemed primarily cosmetic. The Workers' Party, renamed the Socialist Party, attempted to maintain itself in power. While large-scale emigration was occurring, massive protests took place in the capital and elsewhere in the country. Carcani was replaced by Fatos Nano as prime minister in February 1991. This had no effect.
President Alia therefore agreed in June to appoint a coalition government including members of the newly constituted Democratic Party. This government was to calm unrest by drafting constitutional amendments and by preparing free elections. Some constitutional provisions were indeed adopted, although a fully fledged document had to wait – indeed was approved only in 1998. But the free election was scheduled and did occur in March 1992. It resulted in the defeat of the Socialist Party and the victory of the Democratic Party and of its leader Berisha. Thus, there was a change in the power base and a two-party system came about in Albania.
This opened the second phase of post-communist Albania. Parliament elected Berisha to the presidency and he in turn appointed Alexsander Meksi as prime minister. Major economic difficulties came gradually to the fore, which culminated with the massive scandal based on the collapse of a financial ‘pyramid’ in which large numbers of Albanians had been involved. Confronted with strenuous attacks from the opposition, the government