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Albania Opposition MPs to Quit ‘Mafia’ Parliament

February 18, 2019
As political conflict escalates in Albania, opposition Democratic Party MPs have vowed to 'burn' their mandates in a parliament that party chief Lulzim Basha says was elected under the influence of organised crime.
Lulzim Basha, head of the Democratic Party in Albania during a press conference on Sunday, 17 February 2019. Photo: LSA

Albania’s centre-right opposition Democratic Party MPs quit the country’s parliament on Monday, saying the party’s parliamentary group had decided unanimously to “burn” their mandates as another way of fighting Edi Rama’s Socialist-led government.

Party leader Lulzim Basha said he saw no reason to stay in a parliament that he said had had come about “through the votes of the crime and the mafia”.

He did not elaborate on how this “burning” of MPs’ mandates would work out in practice. The party holds 43 of the 140 seats in the chamber.

Albania’s system of closed lists stipulates that if a vacancy occurs in parliament, the mandate goes to the next in line on the respective party list.

Opposition parties have used parliamentary boycotts before as a tool of the last resort, but giving up mandates entirely is a new twist in the country’s political tradition.

The opposition Socialist Movement for Integration, which won 19 seats in the last election, said it supported Basha’s words, but has not yet clarified whether it will make the same move.

The opposition organized one of the biggest rallies that the country has seen in years last Saturday, when tens of thousands of people flooded the streets of Tirana.

The protest turned violent when a small group of protesters broke through the police line and attacked the entrance of Prime Minister Rama’s office.

The number of those taking part in the attack was relatively small. Police on Sunday said they had arrested 15 people in connection with the violence.

Gjergj Erebara