Two decades after Albanians rebelled against the Stalinist regime of former dictator Enver Hoxha, two communist parties are wooing voters at the May 8 local elections, hoping to garner support among those dissatisfied with the current political elite.
“We are communists, neither Socialists nor Democrats,” says Hysni Milloshi, leader of Albania’s Communist Party. “To vote for the Democratic Party or the Socialist Party-led coalitions, would mean only that poor people will vote for the rich to get richer and the poor even poorer,” he adds.
Apart from Milloshi’s Communist Party, Marko Dajti heads the Reorganised Labour Party of Albania, another self-proclaimed heir of the Labour Party, PPSH, which led the country with an iron fist from 1946 to 1991.
“For some it might be hard to admit, but apart from the bad things the PPSH did it also recorded some achievements and things should be viewed through this prism,” says Dajti, who is running a coalition with the Socialist-led ‘Alliance for the Future.”
After the collapse of communist rule, Albania’s Labour Party transformed radically into the centre-right Socialist Party, presenting a business-friendly attitude and pro-western political programme.
Milloshi’s Communist Party emerged from Enver Hoxha’s Volunteers Union in 1991, a group of hardliners that tried to prevent the downfall of the regime in its final gasps.
Milloshi is running as mayor of Tirana in the upcoming elections, against Socialist incumbent Edi Rama and ruling Democratic Party candidate Lulzim Basha. His party received only 11,000 votes nationally in the 2009 general elections, mostly banking on nostalgia for the old regime.
Milloshi says that he has challenged the two other candidates for the municipality to a public debate, but so far they have not accepted.
“If they refuse the debate, it will mean that the two other candidates have no democratic culture and are cowards,” said Milloshi, a poet whose verse often sang praise to the rule of Enver Hoxha.
Dajti’s Reorganised Labour Party, which was established more recently, is only putting forward candidates only for councils, in alliance with the Edi Rama’s Socialists.
“They should not write us off,” warned Dajti. “No one should forget that he was in power for 50 years,” he added.
This article was made possible through the support of the National Endowment for Democracy.
[Please note the organization “National Endowment for Democracy” listed above in the article contributed 80,000 American dollars to the US/NATO funded opposition, the Democratic Party in Albania during the early 90’s]