Edi Rama is officially Prime Minister! After a session lasted 22 hours between Saturday and Sunday last and suspended only at night, the Rama government obtained the confidence of the Parliament with the 82 votes of the center-left majority and together with its ministers in the evening swore an oath before the President of the Republic of Bujar Nishani.
Edi Rama would have liked to begin the mandate of his government in the session of Wednesday 11 September: in the morning the keynote speech and the afternoon the debate and the confidence, but with the insistence of the opposition that he asked for more time to prepare for the program, the group leaders have postponed the debate on the program and the vote of confidence for Saturday 14 September.
There was no lack of friction during the 11 session. While Edi Rama presented the government program, his predecessor Sali Berisha left the classroom in a demonstrative manner followed by all the democratic parliamentarians so as not to return to it, claiming that the programmatic discourse was steeped in the language of revenge and hatred towards the minority .
Instead, for the 14 session, the opposition chose not to file any questions, focusing on the debate in the courtroom for which 54 had signed up for its 57 deputies. They were joined by 45 colleagues from the majority, giving rise to a river session, the longest in Albanian parliamentary history on the government trust at the beginning of the mandate. Later, a part of the Socialist deputies withdrew with the aim of arriving at the vote by Saturday evening, without success. Late at night, the session was suspended to resume the following morning at 9 and 30.
On Sunday in the courtroom, former Democrat leader Berisha also attempted a backlash. "It has never happened that a government comes to Parliament without the program of the first hundred days. We postpone the debate to other 24 hours, give you time to prepare it and we promise to be present and make our opposition ", this was his proposal. The President of the Parliament Ilir Meta rejected it because - in his opinion - the intention of the democrats was to send Rama to Brussels as appointed Prime Minister and not yet invested by the Parliament.
Today, Rama will travel to Brussels to meet with the authorities of the European Union, the second appointment of his governmental agenda established in recent days, when the socialists had expected to obtain the trust by Thursday 12 September. The first appointment of his agenda as promised during the electoral campaign: the official visit to Kosovo, Rama did it last September as appointed Prime Minister.
Debate and opposition
Procedures and intentions aside, the debate in the classroom between the two major parties can be defined as repetitive, exclusive and rhetorical. Certainly it was also the most hyper-technological in parliamentary history: in a classroom where every deputy has a personal monitor, former Prime Minister Berisha waved an ipad from the gallery in place of the sheets to support his statements, while behind him in the benches of the government, his successor Rama always took notes on the jewel of Apple.
After the ministers' replies to the few questions submitted by the majority deputies, the subject of the river session were the electoral promises of Rama and all the crucial questions of the program: the process of European integration, corruption, reforms, employment, the taxation, the economy, health, education, infrastructure and legalization of illegal housing.
The Democrats have focused on the goals achieved during their eight years of government: joining NATO, free movement in the Schengen area, upgrading infrastructure, measures against corruption, reforms in education and health, the economic growth above the 2% despite the global crisis, the increase in wages. The program presented by Rama would lack a development model, financial coverage and certain completion times and it would seem a bad copy of the center-right program and strategies that can be easily found on the official websites of the outgoing government ministries.
The ex-ministers of the Berisha government strongly opposed the position of the socialists who consider the beginning of the new legislature as the year zero and the end of the democratic transition: the transition would end in the 2000 and many of the institutions, actions and policies proposals in the program would already exist or be in place and the new government would only need to continue to implement them. Moreover, many of the "no global" promises of the electoral campaign on taxation and free services would have disappeared or revisited in the government program.
Majority and confidence vote
For their part, the socialist deputies have promoted the Rama program: it would be the solution to the economic crisis, to unemployment, to the emergency of public order, to corruption, to reforms in the various sectors, to illegal building and to the control of the territory.
In his two speeches in the classroom, the Prime Minister has focused more on the form than on the contents, reassuring the Democrats that the programmatic speech of the 11 September and the government program are in line with those of other European countries. To prove it, he demonstrated to those present a collection of programmatic speeches from De Gasperi to Prodi and the British government program that would contain even less data than that presented by the socialists.
Rama said he had no prejudices and wanted to collaborate with the opposition and parliament for a new inclusive policy. He also appreciated the issues raised by Dashamir Shehu, President of the Movement for National Development, inviting him along with other minority representatives to participate in the government tables of reforms concerning administrative division and property.
After 22 hours of debate, on 137 deputies present, the Rama government obtained the trust with 82 against and 55 votes against, one less than the support enjoyed by the center-left majority. The accounts are back because the deputy Vangjel Dule, President of the Union for Human Rights and one of Rama's minor allies was not present in the courtroom. His absence can also be interpreted as a position taken for his exclusion from the team of ministers and it is the first time in the history of Albanian democracy that the Greek minority will be part of the government.
Rama and new parliamentary order
Former Prime Minister Berisha was not in court during the vote and did not deny the expectations of his MPs during the debate. On a war footing, with the charismatic and exclusive style that distinguishes it, in 45 minutes of intervention did nothing but defend the work of the outgoing government and demonize Rama, his ministers and his majority. Berisha has intervened several times for questions of procedure and the right of reply, showing that he continues to dominate the Democrats despite having resigned from all party functions and the new President of the PD is the mayor of Tirana Lulzim Basha.
Instead, the new chief executive seems to want to establish a new standard in parliamentary culture. During the first real debate, Rama showed that he did not want to reserve the same treatment as the previous one to the current opposition. "Everyone will remember the recent past in which the Prime Minister intervened in this room without criteria and demeanor after each opposition MP taking the microphone," said Rama, referring to his predecessor Berisha. In fact, the majority leader did not blink during the accusations and insults from opposition MPs but he waited his turn to answer them.
On the other hand, Rama wanted to firmly reiterate that he will not spare the Democrats from the tribune of the classroom for "the gruesome wrongs of their bad governance", inviting them to cultivate good manners in parliamentary life.
Will he really be able to establish a new standard in parliamentary relations and those between the majority and the opposition? It should not be forgotten that Berisha and the Democrats are the founders of the tough opposition in Albania that they experimented with and consolidated between the 1997 and the 2005. And we must not forget Prime Minister Edi Rama is a charismatic, emotional, extrovert and non-conformist leader who built his capital and his political communication on exclusivity and on the standard dichotomies between good and evil, between light and darkness, between truth and lies. He also demonstrated this in the classroom and his non-verbal language is proof that Rama will still have to work a lot with himself in order not to become the second part of his dichotomies.
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