News / Europe

Albanians Hand Socialists a Landslide, Wait on PM to Concede

Supporters of Albania's Socialist Party in cars wave their party flags and celebrate along a street in Tirana, June 25, 2013, after counting results show a clear lead for their party.
Supporters of Albania's Socialist Party in cars wave their party flags and celebrate along a street in Tirana, June 25, 2013, after counting results show a clear lead for their party.
Reuters
With almost all votes counted, Albania's Socialist opposition was on course for a landslide victory on Tuesday in a parliamentary election, but there was still no word from defeated Prime Minister Sali Berisha.

Berisha, the country's dominant political figure since the end of Stalinist rule in 1991, has not been seen or heard in public since Sunday, when Albanians voted to deny him a third consecutive term as premier.

With votes counted from 86 percent of polling stations in the impoverished NATO country, a Socialist-led alliance headed by former Tirana mayor Edi Rama was on track to take 84 of parliament's 140 seats. Berisha's Democrats were on 56.

The West is anxious to see a smooth handover of power in a country that is deeply polarized between the Socialists and Democrats and no stranger to political violence.

A peaceful transition would help revive Albania's stalled bid to join the European Union, which has yet to accept Tirana's application to join due to misgivings over its democratic maturity and deep-rooted corruption.

At 68, defeat for Berisha could mean the end of his career.

“We continue to wait quietly, respecting our democratic and European ethics, for our opponent to accept his loss and accept and join Albania's great victory,” said Rama, a 48-year-old artist who, as mayor, won international acclaim for revitalizing Albania's drab capital with splashes of paint and avenues of trees.

EU encouragement

The EU, which will make Croatia its 28th member on July 1, commended the “overall orderly” conduct of the election.

“Now it is important that the remaining stages of the election process are conducted in line with EU and international standards,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said in a joint statement.

“We call on all political parties to act in a constructive spirit for the good of the Albanian people,” they said.

The Socialists disputed Berisha's last election win in 2009, and called supporters into the streets. Four were eventually shot dead by security forces.

Berisha was credited with taking Albania into NATO in 2009 and onto the first rung of EU membership, but his opponents accuse him of undermining democracy and allowing graft and organized crime to flourish.

Rama says he will reboot Albania's EU bid and transplant his success in overhauling Tirana to the rest of the rundown country of 2.8 million people that hugs the Adriatic coast between Montenegro in the north and Greece to the south.

He will inherit an economy feeling the effects of the crisis in the euro zone, particularly in Greece and Italy where some 1 million Albanian migrants work and send money home.

Unlike its Balkan peers, Albania has avoided recession, but remittances are down and there is concern over rising public debt and the government's budget deficit.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs