Election - June 2001
During the transitional period of 1997-2002, a series of short-lived Socialist-led governments succeeded one another as Albania's fragile democratic structures were strengthened. Additional political parties formed, media outlets expanded, non-governmental organizations and business associations developed. In 1998, Albanians ratified a new constitution via popular referendum, guaranteeing the rule of law and the protection of fundamental human rights and religious freedom. In elections held June 2001, Socialist Party (PS) led by Fatos Nano won 73 seats in the 140 seat People's Assembly (Kuvendi Popullor), down from the 101 seats won in the last election.
Fatos Nano, Chairman of the Socialist Party, emerged as Prime Minister in July 2002. Ilir Meta had served as PM from 1999 to January 2002 when he was forced to resign after a power struggle with then Socialist Party (SP) Chairman Fatos Nano. During his two and a half years as PM, he advanced efforts to modernize the economy, privatize business, fight crime, and reform the judiciary and tax systems. He was also outspoken in his efforts to integrate Albania into the greater European community. In early 2001, when fighting involving an Albanian separatist movement erupted, he supported greater rights for the Albanian minority but condemned the rebels' violent tactics.
Prior to his appointment as PM, Meta served as Deputy PM and Secretary of State for Integration at the MFA. From 1996 to 1997, he served as Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on Foreign Affairs. He has also been an MP since 1992. In the early 1990s, Meta was one of the leaders of the student movement which brought about the end of Communist rule, and chaired the Albanian-Euro Socialist Youth Forum, a Socialist International member organization. From 1993 to 1996, he was the SP's Deputy Chairman for Foreign Affairs. Meta also has extensive business interests, is very wealthy and is widely held to be spectacularly corrupt.
On July 24, 2002, Alfred Moisiu was sworn in as President of the Republic. A nonpartisan figure, he was elected as a consensus candidate of the ruling and opposition parties. The peaceful transfer of power from President Meidani to President Moisiu was the result of an agreement between the parties to engage each other within established parliamentary structures. This "truce" ushered in a new period of political stability in Albania, making possible significant progress in democratic and economic reforms, rule of law initiatives, and the development of Albania's relations with its neighbors and the U.S.
The "truce" between party leaders began to fray in summer 2003 and progress on economic and political reforms suffered noticeably due to political infighting. The municipal elections of 2003 and national elections of 2005 were an improvement over past years, adding to the consolidation of democracy despite the continued presence of administrative errors and inaccuracies in voter lists.
Movement for Socialist Integration (LSI) was founded by Ilir Meta in 2004 after falling out with then-SP Chairman and PM Fatos Nano, and from 2004 on struggled to carve out a role for himself on the left. The LSI established itself as the third force in Albanian politics after the opposition Socialists and the ruling Democrats, deciding the balance of power in at least three elections.
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