The Albanian Institute for International Studies has recently carried out a survey on the state of democracy in Albania, the comparison between the period of the communist regime and that of democratic transition, national security and the possibility of union with Kosovo. Many reading keys, Albania News offers you the main data.
In Albania we often hear of an unconditional nostalgia for the communist regime. A slap in the face of the fragile Albanian liberal democracy contained in the expression "It was better when it was worse".
Difficult to trace the identikit of the nostalgic, but summing up it could be for the most part a citizen over forty, tied to ethical and traditional values, accustomed to an omnipresent and omnipotent state, fired or demoted in the last twenty years. Also the reasons are many, but at least on these he tried to give some answers to the Albanian Institute for International Studies (AIIS) that the 7 last December presented during a conference the results of the survey "
The perceptions of Albanian society on democracy and the state after twenty years. "A sample of 1200 citizens residing in 10 Albanian cities responded to 35 questions of which 18 closely related to the comparison between the period of the communist regime and the twenty years of the democratic transition on living conditions, quality of services, citizens' safety, law enforcement and fundamental freedoms. For each of the two periods, the respondents could provide six possible answers: "I don't know", "very little", "little", "average", "very", "very much".
Many are the reading keys, above all if the data are crossed with the age groups, education, employment, answers and questions for each period, but we will try to provide you with the basic and mainly opposed data, considering the sample as a single body.
Socialism Vs. capitalism
On the side of fundamental freedoms, most Albanian citizens agree that during the communist regime there was no freedom of speech (very little 49,7, little 23%), there was no freedom to profess one's faith (very little 63, 26% little), individual rights were violated (29,8% very much, 44% very), the safety of the citizens was threatened by the same state (18,6% very much, 50,5% very), and the country was isolated (40,3% very much, 34.3% very).
Instead, on the side of values, the situation is reversed. According to the 77,5% of the citizens interviewed (very much 34,2%, 43,3% very) the Albanian family was stronger during the regime. Similar percentages also for mutual trust between citizens: the 69% of respondents (very much 21,5%, 46,5 very much) think that it was greater before the 1990.
On the other hand, in the perception of Albanian citizens the living conditions are better during the last twenty years. The 32,6% considers them good (1% excellent, 31,6% good), the 41,1% average, the 26,3% bad (2,5% very bad, 23,8% bad). The range of poverty for those who live in very bad conditions during the regime has been reduced by about 25 points, going from 27,2 to 2,5%, instead the percentage of those who live in bad conditions has gone from 43,8% to 23.8%. It is surprising that only 2,5% of respondents said they had had good living conditions before 1990 (1,2% excellent, 1,3% good).
More balanced opinions regarding the quality of education, health, and the commitment of the Albanian governments to guarantee the safety and the standard of living of the citizens. The quality of education would have been very good before the 1990 for the 41% (19% very much, 23% very) of the respondents, instead they have the same opinion on the period 1991 - 2010, the 20% of them (5% very much, 15 % very).
But for the 42%, in the last twenty years the quality is average, compared to the 23% which provides the same opinion for the education of the communist regime. The perception of the quality of public health is more negative. For the 52,3% of citizens (21,5% very little, 30,8% little), in the last twenty years it can be defined as bad. The same definition on the period of the communist regime is given by 30,9% (very little 9,6%, little 21,2%). Over the same period, the 31,1% claims that the quality was average, against the 21,2% which is expressed this way for the last twenty years.
The data on the commitment of the Albanian governments to guarantee the living standards of the citizens is interesting. The 27% of respondents (very much 4%, 23% a lot) say that governments have worked a lot after the 1990 to guarantee a better standard of living, compared to 7% (0% very much, 7% a lot) which states the same on the period of the communist regime. On the other hand, these data reflect the responses of those who maintain that governments have committed little: for 30% (very little 13%, little 17%) during the last twenty years, and for 62% (very little 29%, 33% little) during the scheme.
The closest absolute values are those of the question about the commitment of the Albanian governments to guarantee the safety of citizens. The 37% (very much 12%, 25% very) considers this commitment high during the scheme, and the 33% (5% very much, 28% very much) considers it so after the 1990. The 29% expresses itself for an average commitment before the 1990, and the 25% gives the same value for the last twenty years. Instead for the 33% (6% very little, 27% little), the Albanian governments have worked little on the security front before the 1990, and the 36% (8% very little, 28% little) thinks the same for the period after the 1990.
Corruption, endemic plague
The survey also takes into account corruption and illegal activities before and after the 1990. Meanwhile, it must be confirmed that the culture of bribes also existed during the regime. The survey does not dwell on the modality, but the 26,3% of the interviewees declare to have given a bribe also during the communist regime and the 57,7% did it also during the last twenty years. On the other hand, the 66,3% before the 1990, and the 32,7% after the 1990 claim not to have given any bribes.
The position of citizens on the importance of bribes in having a public service in exchange is different. For the 70% of the interviewees (very much 33%, 37% very), in the last twenty years it is very important to give it, instead nobody (0%) thinks the same for the period of the communist regime. The 64% considers it unimportant to do so during the scheme and only one 13% claims that it was of average importance. Instead, 24% has no opinion on the matter.
Along the same lines, the responses of citizens to illegal activities. The 76% (47% very much, 29% very) states that these are very developed in Albania after the 1990, and only 1% supports it for the period before the 1990. Obviously the sense of respect for the law is linked to the aspects of bribes and illegality, which was very high given the repressive nature of the Albanian state during communism. The 78,8% of respondents (very much 54,5%, 24,3% a lot) think that the Albanian laws were respected a lot, and the 77,1% of them (31,5% very much, 45.6% a lot) maintains that the Albanian citizens kept very much to the norms in general . Instead in the last twenty years, the 38% (14,2% very much, 23,8% very) thinks that the laws are respected a lot and the 37,3% on average. The trend towards compliance with the rules in general is more negative: 60,3% (29,3% very little, 31% little) maintains that this happens little.
The unfinished transition
Ten questions from the survey only concern the period of democratic transition. It seems that Albanian citizens have clear ideas about the causes of the failure of liberal democracy in the last twenty years. Corruption, the political class, the struggle for power and illegal activities are the top four on the list.
With regard to the question of the wealth sources of wealthy Albanian citizens, the 26% of respondents list corruption as the main source, 19% illicit business activities, 16% public service, 4% pyramid schemes and 3% organized crime. In short, in the perception of the interviewees, the 68% of wealthy Albanians became such thanks to the activities not allowed by urban ethics, and only the 23% would have earned its wealth thanks to work or other legitimate sources: 8% for via legal entrepreneurial activities, another 8% due to smart investments, 3% due to the redistribution of properties, 1% thanks to family members abroad, another 1% thanks to contacts with foreign countries and only 2% thanks to hard work.
Furthermore, the 28% of respondents fully agree and another 28% partially agree that in Albania some citizens are above the law. Who would they be? In first place with the 89% of the consents the politicians, in the second with the 66% the police, in the third place with the 61% the criminals, in fourth place with the 60% the rich and in fifth place with the 56 % people with the right ties. Moreover, the 39% of respondents fully agree and the 33% of them partially agree that during this period many people deal with illegal activities.
Thus, in the perception of the interviewees, the political class would be the main evil of Albanian democracy. For the 62% politicians have not kept their promises, for the 33,3% they have done it in part and only for the 0,1% they have kept them fully. The main problem of Albanian politics according to the 35,1% of the interviewees is the struggle for power, followed by politicians (Sali Berisha 11,3%, Edi Rama 5,7%, other politicians 5%), the lack of free elections (the 18,9%) , and the lack of democratic experience (the 13,2%). Furthermore, the fundamental role in the democratization of the country lies with the international community for the 48,9% of respondents, the citizens for the 28,2%, the parties for the 12,7% and the government for the 9,1%.
On the other hand, the 22,8% consider Albania a fully democratic country, the 56,8% more democratic than illiberal, the 14% more illiberal than democratic and only the 6,5% fully illiberal. The citizens do not even seem satisfied with the Albanian economy. The 60,4% expresses its dissatisfaction (27% very dissatisfied, 33,4% dissatisfied), the average 21,6% satisfied and only the 8,3% satisfied (0,1% very satisfied, 8,2% satisfied). These data are also reflected in the main threats to the future of the Albanians: the 31,9% considers as the first threat the possibility of not having economic means to maintain the family, the 17,9% the loss of the job, the 11,9% the condition housing and the 5,9 diseases in the family.
The last seven questions concern national security and the possibility of union with Kosovo. For the 26% of Albanian citizens, other states have influenced the Albanian governments after the fall of the regime, for the 35% there has been no influence, instead the 39% is not expressed. Of the states that have had an influence, the results reflect the migratory trends, historical ties and Albania's main trading partners: Italy is in first place with 44% of preferences, Greece in second with 35%, the United States third with 12% and Serbia with the fourth with 9%.
Instead, the perception of states that would threaten national security reflects the dynamics of Balkan nationalisms. Meanwhile, 43% denies that there is a threat in this sense, 39% is not expressed and only 18% perceives such a threat. Obviously in first place is Serbia with 51,6% of preferences, in second place Greece with 47,9% and even in third place Italy with 0,5%.
The positions on Kosovo are different. Only the 9% considers the union as a positive process, the 35% negative and the 37% neither positive nor negative. Moreover, always the 9% evaluates as fully achievable the eventuality of the union, and in the case of a referendum the 39% would express itself in favor, the 23% against, the 21% would have abstained and the 18% would not have even participated .
The survey "Perceptimet and shoqërisë shqiptare për demokracinë dhe shtetin pas njëzet vjetësh", Is part of a larger project entitled" Twenty Years After: Rethinking Democracy and State in Albania ", produced by the Albanian Institute for International Studies (AIIS), in collaboration with Instituti Shqiptar i Mediave, the German Friedrich-Ebert Foundation ( FES) and the NGO Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD). For more information visit the site https://www.aiis-albania.org/ or contact AIIS at the e-mail address email@example.com.
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