Towards agreement through political consensus and institutional dignity

Prime Minister Edi Rama’s speech at today’s parliamentary session:

I believe that as far as I am concerned and as far as we are concerned, we have consistently tried to express our respect for the need for a political consensus by not drawing any division line between those outside the parliament and you inside it, and not considering those outside as owners of the opposition monopoly and not considering you as a temporary remnant in this Parliament, but as legitimate members of this Parliament and as the legitimate opposition of today. It wouldn’t probably be appropriate to try and explain that our approach is not simply related to the fact that we don’t possess the number of required votes in parliament, since in order for the amendments to the Electoral Code to be adopted an overwhelmed majority is needed, which we lack here in parliament. I am highlighting this fact here to emphasize what I believe has been pretty clear in the line of our conduct and not only part of our statements. We won’t be seeking the path of diversion, let alone the path or arithmetic, as, unfortunately you, not today but previously, your colleague, the firebrand supporter of this change your are calling for, including anyone else, have constantly accused us of efforts to put an end to this deal or game by buying votes. Consensus today cannot be a sound outcome, if it were to be seen as a result of a deal between two parties only, while actually the Albanian politics today features three parties. Despite the fact that you too have signed the cross-party deal, on which the detailed work has been finalized on what has been already formally forwarded to the Commission on Legal Affairs, if I am not mistaken, as an outcome to be included in the Electoral Code and I believe that it is up to us as the largest political party, but also as the political force that has the responsibility to look beyond its narrow interests and try to the end to create a consensus, where perhaps each party would concede the fact that it cannot win everything. And where I want to remind you now – because others are not here and strangely enough are weirdly  self-confident as to issue ultimatums about what the Assembly should do –that the Socialist Party has the right to say something. You are a minority divided into two minorities and raise your voice to be granted, according to you, what people need, because both of you speak on behalf of people, while it is us the ones to represent the people’s will in this Parliament, represent it as a governing and leadership will of this country. It is neither you, nor them to represent people! With that said, I mean that there is no need to go on with provocations, be either from outside or inside this parliament. I would tell those outside parliament they are not entitled to order the Assembly and, since we are here today, the Assembly Speaker, whom has been ordered by the secretary general of the extra-parliamentary liberation forces himself, but I am also disappointed by the last sentence that you and Mrs. Hajdari have signed together with Damian Gjiknuri and two other representatives, stipulating that the Assembly should vote the agreement unconditionally and without any amendment. I don’t know whether in the history of this planet, in whole democratic life, there is any other institution than the Constitutional Court to order Parliament about something. It is four of you coming together in a very honoured place, in a common home of Albanians, in what is legally and actually is considered an American territory, and you sign to agree that Parliament should now take the document and just adopt it?! Just vote! We are today in a process and I believe that you Mrs. Hajdari, your colleague Myslim Murrizi and everyone else here, need to reflect about the fact that we here have respected your initiative not only through statements, but also through the parliament’s rules and procedure. You might say we had no other choice than doing this. Perhaps, because we don’t have the required number of votes, but, on the other hand, you should also reflect for the fact that this is a process from which the consensus should yield a lasting and stable outcome for Albanians and Albania and where each party should make its concessions. We are the party, not because we have to, but because it is part of our political awareness that we should offer more consensus than the others, and you know it, and that’s why you keep accusing me of giving in concessions – political concessions and not concession contracts on public projects in this case – anytime you take the floor here. But let’s calmly continue openly discussing. You already know my opinion about the open lists. I don’t believe in their miraculous effect, just like I think that the open lists substantially complicate the vote administration process, because you are all aware, you are all witnesses, some more than others, especially in the process of counting the votes of all those wagons of the trains of coalitions, to say the least, is not easy at all. If we are to take into account all those trains and the open lists in each wagon and if we are to go back in time and recall how long vote counting lasts even in the case of today’s closed lists, I don’t know when and how we will complete the undisputed vote counting process. However, I agree with you on one point. It is true that the public opinion is convinced that open lists are a great solution regarding democratization of representation. It is really true, the findings of various surveys are somehow the same and the public opinion sees closed lists as the safe of the mysteries, secrets and all undiscovered and unsaid evils, just like it is wrongly believed that if the candidates lists open the parties won’t have chairmen and the latter would merely serve as notaries. This is not the case! Yet, the truth is that, yes, the public is highly sensitive on this issue. In order to show you and everyone else that I am the leader of the largest political party that is not intrinsically related to the closed lists or that I am not afraid of the open lists, I believe we need to hold a discussion at this stage of the process. Whether we will agree or not this remains to be seen in the process, yet the process includes high risk due to the fact that if we don’t agree then we won’t be able to adopt nothing, neither the open lists proposal, nor the politicized commissions of vote counting process about which you should agree, otherwise we would be forced to tell the extra-parliamentary opposition that the agreement we signed with you is no longer valid, because we will reach now an agreement with the parliamentary opposition. We cannot afford that when we have entered into any marriage relation  – and I want to tell lawmaker Murrizi, because he is particularly concerned about my marriage with Lulzim Basha, no marriage has happened – but an intermarriage relation with you and the non-parliamentary opposition that we should do everything to achieve a result in the vote about the agreement in this hall, otherwise we risk of being left with nothing and it would mean that the thing we are interested in and has to do with fulfilment of a condition, which doesn’t mean consensus in the old sense of the world, but it implies an outcome that meets standards and an outcome that would possibly create a bigger climate of trust among parties. So, if you would tell me that you want the open lists, you want to ban pre-electoral coalitions and that you want no DP representatives in the electoral commissions, than you are telling me that you want to scare Lulzim again, so that he may decide to boycott elections again. You know that. Saying that the election administration in 2020in Albania is more secure when carried out by political parties is scandalous. We would be ready to suggest involving all teachers all over the country in the election administration process just to make sure the opposition wouldn’t say no. We are here to emerge with institutional dignity from this story. Of course, also to emerge with a spirit of consensus that will be welcomed by the Albanian people, first and foremost. To set the record straight, we are here neither to receive orders from DP, nor you. We are here to best deliver on our commitments, so that the outcome is not a unilateral one, because the current product is a biased one. I accept it, because saying in these conditions when the opposition is fragmented – and when I don’t actually know whether gather another big reconciliation council and probably will be included on the DP candidates lists in the next elections-  the political administration of the elections with two representatives on one side and two on the other side could be  even more unilateral  vis-a-vis the others, including many new political parties that would have wished to take part in this process, so let’s complete this process with dignity. No worries Mrs. Hajdari, I am not like others, since you have said that I am a ‘sultan”. I am not like the ones who receive and obey orders from Lulzim’s soldiers. However, there is one thing for sure; you should prepare to make concessions and not try to intimidate parliament, otherwise we would leave and you would remain with Taulant Balla’s ‘bio-lawmakers,” with the Socialist parliamentary group, without any votes. This would be a serious failure for everyone and it would be something we could not overcome in relation to the people and in relation to Europe where we want to integrate, but not that it is good that Europe wants us, but that it is good that we need it.