Socialists remove the President from Office

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 14, 2021 10:15

Socialists remove the President from Office

The Socialist Party succeeded in removing President Meta from office whilst still in control of a rubber-stamp parliament.  The President’s removal comes as the result of an acrimonious battle between his office and the Government.

Whilst it is true that the President’s removal is an unprecedented act in Albanian Politics, the fact that the Socialists carried out their promise to remove the President after winning the general elections should come as no surprise. Even his most fervent supporters would readily admit that Meta’s rhetoric during the election campaign was extremely unpresidential.

In light of his rhetoric, he has been accused by the Socialists of inciting violence and public unrest, calling people to arms, denigrating the character of senior government officials and damaging Albania’s relations with the US.

Mr. Meta has been a central figure in Albanian Politics for the last 30 years. After serving as Prime-Minister in the early 2000’s, he broke away from the Socialist Party along with several of its members in order to form the Socialist Movement for Integration. At the height of its success, the SMI held 19 seats in Parliament. For almost a decade, Ilir Meta was the king-maker of Albanian Politics. As a coalition partner, the SPI enabled the democrats to stay in power in 2008 and the Socialists to come in power in 2013.

In 2017, Ilir Meta was elected President of the Albanian Republic. After almost 30 years in power, the presidency should have provided Meta with an opportunity to exit from politics gracefully. In 2019, the President had the opportunity to do just that.

During that year’s local elections, the President sought to postpone the elections through a presidential decree, in an effort to impede the Socialists from gaining total control of the local administration under what was effectively a single-party system. The President’s decree was simply ignored, and the elections proceeded. And it is in  precisely this moment the President should have resigned, for there is little dignity in being President of a State run by a “corrupt regime”, to quote the President himself.

Instead of bowing out gracefully, from then on Meta engaged in an acrimonious and very public battle with the Government, often voicing the concerns of the opposition parties which had left parliament. And although his behavior was clearly not impartial, many sympathized with the President’s efforts to oppose an increasingly autocratic regime. But his behavior became increasingly erratic during the election campaign, as the President began to incite people to use violence to protect the integrity of the voting process, engaged in a public battle with the US Ambassador and viciously attacked the Government in a manner which would lead one to think he were still the leader of the SMI.

Mr. Meta forms part of a group of Albanian Politicians who seem intent on clinging on to power  for as long as they possibly can. Today, the political scene in Albania is dominated from the same players that were in power three decades ago. And whilst it may be unfair to single out the president for his unwillingness to call it quits, through his actions, the president has done a great disservice to the office of the president, which he increasingly used as a platform to voice the concerns of the SMI, now led by his wife, Monika Kryemadhi.

The legality of the decision to remove the president is yet to be reviewed by the Constitutional Court. Politically speaking, Mr. Meta’s dismissal marks his descent into irrelevance. At a time when the state is ran by a party in control of most state institutions which would otherwise provide some form of checks and balances, the removal of the President is yet another blow to democracy.

There is a fine line between seeking to hold a government accountable for decisions which may be unconstitutional, and using the office of the president to advance one’s own political interests beyond the presidency. Unfortunately, the President crossed that line, and in doing so he deprived the Albanian People of a President who is impartial but willing to hold an increasingly autocratic Government to account for its actions.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 14, 2021 10:15