Albania's Democrats Vote For New Leader

Balkan Insight
Fecha de publicación: 
22 Jul 2013

Around 105,000 members of the party are heading to the ballot box on Monday to select a new party leader, with the main contenders being Tirana mayor Lulzim Basha and transport minister Sokol Olldashi.

This is the first time in the party’s history that rank-and-file members vote directly for their chairman.

Berisha resigned as party boss following the defeat in the June 23 parliamentary elections, won by a landslide by the Socialists headed by former Tirana mayor Edi Rama.

During the campaign, both candidates for the party leadership have avoided criticising Berisha, who is expected to play an important role in the party behind the scenes following his resignation.

The outgoing prime minister has controlled the party with an iron fist since its inception in 1991, and his resignation opens up a new chapter for the Democrats, who are now in opposition.

Although Olldashi is perceived as more popular among the Democratic Party structures than Basha, the Tirana mayor has closer ties to Berisha’s family and the inner circle.

Many commentators have underlined that, despite the open nature of the leadership race, Berisha is believed to have handpicked Basha as his successor.