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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs