Tag Archives: Albania

Student protests in Albania: “What we are witnessing is the direct effect of the neoliberal reform in education”

Note from LeftEast editors: This interview originally appeared on the Revolution Permanente website. Albanian students are protesting en masse against a new hike in tuition fees in one of the poorest countries of the continent. While the medium wage in Albania is 350 euros per month, the tuition fees can go up to 2000 euros per year. Government wanted to make students pay for retake exams but it was forced to retreat to try to calm down the movement. But it seems not enough. We interviewed Redi Muçi, lecturer at the Faculty of Geology and Mining and member of Movement For University (Levizja Për Universitetin), ..

Albanian Students Revolt: What Is to Be Done?

In the last days, thousands of students have flooded the narrow street where the Albanian Ministry of Education, Sport and Youth is located. Demonstrations of this magnitude are not alien to the public. In the last three decades there have been plenty of anti-government demonstrations in Albania, and apart from a few notable exceptions, they have been successfully co-opted by various mainstream political parties. Thus, one of the main features of this protest has been a clear collective attempt to keep it unaffiliated with any political party, the main reason for this being the fear of losing the credibility. The ..

Scrap mines, call centers and hashish plantations: The grim options facing Albanian workers

Editors’ Note: Over the last three decades or so, the workplace has receded from visibility in scholarship and in cultural productions. This disappearance is a global phenomenon of the neoliberal era, but the shift in East European societies, which used to valorize labor in many ways, has been particularly extreme. To the outside observer, it is becoming increasingly difficult to imagine what people do upon entering the gates of their workplace. This is why articles such as the following one by Arlind Qori, about the employment options Albanians face and the attendant forms of violence, oppression, and expl ..

Albania and China: the reemergence of an old friendship?

Note from the LeftEast editors: this piece has been published in cooperation with the Serbo-Croatian Left portal Bilten.Org. Nobody could have expected before the sixties that a tiny and a large country, 7000 thousands kilometers apart, the Popular Republic of Albania and the People’s Republic of China would forge a strong political alliance based on countering the Soviet Union and pushing forward an intransigent version of Marxist-Leninist ideology. For different reasons – from escaping the Soviet dependency to putting breaks to the destalinization process, Albania and China found themselves on the same sid ..

The times they are a changing: Rebuilding collective action in Albania

Following a wave of protests in Zharrez, Albania, Griselda Qosja spoke with activists affiliated with two of the leading leftist organizations in Albania, Organizata Politike and Thurje. From Aristotle to Hegel, the distinction between state and market has been the basis of understanding the role of civil society. In Albania, however, since the 1990s, unfortunately the role of civic activism has been often marginalized in public opinion, and perceived as an agent linked to the Open Society Foundation (OSF)[1] or backed by foreign embassies. Probably, an atavism of the communist regime, where the fight against fo ..

The Marvelous and the Everyday: How Rama is failing the Left in Albania

On a May evening six years ago, standing close to the venue where the opposition’s MPs are on strike, darkened by the night and time, solitary and pensive, Edi Rama looks as if painted by some Neue Sachlichkeit artist. “You have a weak handshake” – he tells me and shows how a handshake is supposed to be. For the then 19-year old me, he is an artist, the leftist that has to be a Prime Minister. Indeed he does but nowadays the artist surfaces here and there, whereas the leftist is nowhere to be seen. During the first years that followed the collapse of the communist regime, a young Rama wrot ..

Healthcare tailored to the interests of capital

The following article was originally published by the Serbo-Croatian online platform, Bilten. It is republished here with that site’s kind permission. During the electoral campaign of 2013, the Socialist Party of Albania, then in opposition, made a stunning promise for a Third-Way party. Its chairman Edi Rama stressed that once in power the Socialists would implement universal public health care coverage, modeled after the British NHS. No more health care insurances, which left the unemployed or illegal workers without care, but a state-sponsored central agency, which was going to cover free health care for ..

Property Claims as Social Power Struggle in Albania

Note from the LeftEast editors: this article has been published in collaboration with the Serbo-Croat web portal Bilten.Org Several days ago the European Court of Human Rights reached a verdict on contests between three property owners and the Albanian state. It held that the Albanian state owes the property owners 12 million Euros in compensation for not returning the properties that the Albanian law acknowledges as theirs. In the recent years the same court has imposed other financial penalties on the Albanian state for breaching what it considers basic human rights. It should be stressed that the jurisdictio ..

Albania: Tens of thousands march against the government

Last week almost 50,000 people demonstrated in Tirana, the capital of Albania, against the socialist government of Prime Minister Edi Rama. The protest was organised by the right-wing opposition Democratic Party and demanded the resignation of the government. The strength of the demonstration, together with the current student movement against neoliberal reforms, expresses a growing social discontent against the political caste which has been in power for 25 years. Left Voice interviewed Redi Muçi, reader at the Polytechnic University of Tirana and a militant in the student movement Për Universitetin. The inter ..

Can the dead be resurrected? The impossibility of politicizing mainstream parties in Albania

Jeremy Corbyn’s conquest of the Labor leadership position and the advancement of Bernie Sanders in the Democrats’ race to the White House show that there can be still life in the atrophied bodies of the once-called social-democracies of the West. What’s interesting politically about these outsiders from the Left is their capacity to embody grass-root new social movement while using the remnants of organized trade-unionism and rank and file party members. But what are the odds that something similar might happen to the Albanian mainstream parties? The current Albanian political system conforms to a 2+1 model ..