Albanian President Bajram Begaj announced that local elections will be held on 14 May 2023. In these elections, the opposition will fight hard for municipalities that are almost entirely in the hands of the ruling Socialist Party (SP).
It can be said that the election race in Albania began early. Because it is seen that the Freedom Party (FP) and the Democrat Party (DP), founded by former President Ilir Meta, strongly oppose the Socialist Party Prime Minister Edi Rama. The rhetoric/discourses used by the opposition leaders seem to be very similar. Therefore, there is a question of whether there will be an alliance between the parties involved in the local elections. In particular, it can be said that DP Leader Sali Berisha was hard on Rama Government. The opposition is therefore considered to be in great competition with the ruling SP, which has many municipalities in Albania.
Opposition criticizes Rama Government, especially for economic troubles and the fight against corruption. It can therefore be stated that during the election campaign, rhetoric about these issues will become prominent. Local elections should be emphasized that they are critical to maintaining the SP’s power. Because worsening living conditions in the country indicate that these elections will be difficult for the government. Therefore, it would not be wrong to say that the hand of the opposition is strong.
At the call of the opposition DP and FP, anti-government protests were held in the capital Tirana on 12 November 2022. It was noteworthy that there was wide participation in the demonstration, which took place upon demands regarding the cost of living and the fight against corruption. Addressing the protesters, Meta said:
“You are the ones who have kept this country alive through your efforts and sacrifices. You have the right to demand responsibility for everything from the government and every office in this country. You keep the government and the state afloat with the taxes you pay.”
Berisha, on the other hand, promised to double the salaries of civil servants and pensioners if he came to power again, and called on the people to support the opposition. Opposition supporters urge Rama to resign. With the 8 percent hike in basic food and fuel prices in the country, high inflation figures continue to rise day by day. Therefore, the opposition blames Rama for thousands of young people leaving the country every year in search of a better life.
With the 8 percent hike in basic food and fuel prices in the country, high inflation figures continue to rise day by day. After three years of negotiations for the port in question, a cooperation memorandum of 2 billion dollars was signed between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) based company “Eagle Hills Real Estate Development” and the “Albanian Seaports Development Company” on 10 August 2022. Rama stated that the port project, which the UAE company undertakes, will pave the way for economic development, that will create employment for 12 thousand people, and that the project will affect not only Durres but also the image of Albania in Europe.
Opposition criticizes Rama Government, claiming that the operation of Durres Port was “gifted” to Arab investors. Berisha, who opposes the project, accused Rama of using the privatization law for his benefit. On the subject Berisha has declared, “The Port of Durres is worth at least 3 billion euros, but who are those who took our port? Are there any Albanians who know this?” He also claimed that the Berisha port project caused economic damage to the country and stated that they would continue to oppose it and even organize protests. Therefore, Berisha invited EU Heads of State and Governments to protest demonstrations they will organize on 6 December 2022 and said, “The largest public asset that Albanians have today is the Port of Durres. This entity is being held plundered unbelievably.”
In line with all these developments, it can be said that Berisha and Meta act together. Therefore, it can be stated that such protests are to test the water and a show of strength for local elections.
It can also be argued that Rama was weak in responding to opposition. This suggests that Rama, who holds the major municipalities, will seek to develop strong arguments against these problems. He thinks that if Rama loses local municipalities, his power will weaken. It is also possible that this will result in the loss of general elections.
In the meantime, Berisha, who served as the Second President of Albania between 1992-1997 and as Prime Minister between 2005-2013 and was known as the leader who served longest in the country, was charged with corruption by the United States of America (US) in 2021 and he was banned from entering the US. Therefore, it can be said that Berisha tried to improve his image in eyes of the Albanian people through these local elections.
As a result, for the elections to be held in Albania on 14 May 2023, the opposition will continue to burden the Rama Government to win large municipalities such as Tirana. It is foreseeable that citizens of the country who are concerned about the economy and corruption will consider the opposition’s messages with protests. Because the people of Albania, who are going through difficult economic times, can seek a solution by voting for change in the local elections.
 “The Protest Ends: Berisha-Meta Accuses Rama, Protesters Break the Police Cordon”, Euronews Albania, https://euronews.al/en/live-hundreds-of-protestors-gather-in-front-of-the-democratic-party-headquarters/, (Date of Accession: 22.11.2022).
 “Tens Of Thousands Of Albanians Protest Over Rising Costs”, Al Jazeera, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/11/13/tens-of-thousands-protest-rising-costs-in-albanias-capital, (Date of Accession: 22.11.2022).
 Aynı yer.
 “MoU Signed for Port of Durres Development”, Exit, https://exit.al/en/2022/08/12/mou-signed-for-port-of-durres-development/, (Date of Accession: 22.11.2022).
 “Berisha: The Port of Durres İs Being Captured by the Rama-Vučič Clan with Lukashenko of Belarus”, Euronews Albania, https://euronews.al/en/berisha-the-port-of-durres-is-being-captured-by-the-rama-vucic-clan-with-llukashenko-of-belarus/, (Date of Accession: 22.11.2022).
 “Protest for the Port of Durres, Berisha: The Country’s National Wealth Is Severely Affected”, Euronews Albania, https://euronews.al/en/protest-for-the-port-of-durres-berisha-the-countrys-national-wealth-is-severely-affected/, (Date of Accession: 22.11.2022).
 “Berisha: The Next Protest of the Opposition Will Be on December 6”, Euronews Albania, https://euronews.al/en/berisha-the-next-protest-of-the-opposition-will-be-on-december-6/, (Date of Accession: 22.11.2022).
 “ABD’den Arnavutluk Eski Cumhurbaşkanına Yolsuzluk Yaptırımı”, VOA, https://editorials.voa.gov/a/abd-den-arnavutluk-eski-cumhurbaskanina-yolsuzluk-yaptirimi/5945241.html, (Date of Accession: 22.11.2022).