About 100 hundred days after the installation of the new left-wing government, the Albanian twentieth century is slowly seeping in through the cracks of the cleptocratic system that held the country together for the past eight years. Although the second “Rilindja” (renaissance) announced by the ruling Socialist Party has already many times been parodied by the Democrats from the opposition as a renaissance of communism, it seems clear that the current government will mainly continue many of the neoliberal policies that were developed in the wake of the “shock therapy” of the Albanian communist economy in 1991.
There seems to be a feeling of regained freedom of political expression that has shattered many taboos of the last eight years. Albanian students and civil society protested successfully (although on a mainly misinformed basis) against importing chemical arms from Syria, in a days long protest that would have never been tolerated by the previous government (which no doubt would have accepted the arms in order to fill their pockets with US money). In a smart political move, PM Edi Rama sided with the protesters, to the great exhilaration of the masses. One of the momentous scenes during the protests in front of the PM’s office was when opposition leader and mayor of Tirana Basha and ex-PM Berisha attempted to join the crowd. They were practically thrown out by masses of students who didn’t want the protest “to be politicized.” (Poor students, of course it’s always already politicized.)