tirana for webLavdrim Krashi explains what’s at stake:

Albania, a NATO member country, heads to the polls this weekend. The world is watching closely not only about the result of the elections but mainly their conduct. There are concerns that the country may fail to deliver fair and free elections and therefore stall its progress in its aspirations to join the European Union and potentially spell trouble ahead.

In spite of these challenges, The Socialist Party of Albania is fighting these elections as the country’s official opposition. It has brought together a coalition “The Alliance for a European Albania” including 37 opposition parties, in a proportional representation system. The Socialists have conducted a modern campaign involving all sections of the society, including the country’s 1 million strong immigrant population with approximately 80,000 in the UK alone.

It is the first time in the history of the elections in Albania that a political party has produced a full and comprehensive electoral programme before the elections. Such has been its success that even the outgoing government has used some of its principles in its electoral campaign as it realises that they are real and connect with the electorate. The introduction of the progressive taxation system instead of the current flat tax rate, replacement of current discredited and corrupt health system with an NHS style one, moderate regional politics instead of nationalist rhetoric are some of the future socialist led government policies that promise to make Albania a more prosperous and dynamic society.

For all the right reasons, the programme of the Socialist Party, led by Edi Rama, in these elections promises the “Renaissance” of Albania and a real opportunity to bring the country closer to the European Union of nations.

Lavdrim Krashi is chair of the UK branch Labour’s Albanian sister party