Inside Story

Albania’s escalating crisis

As the prime minister faces off against the opposition leader, we look at the mounting political tensions.

It is a country that has endured political instability, corruption and poverty for much of the past two decades.

Its latest crisis sees Sali Berisha, the conservative prime minister, facing growing opposition from Socialists who accuse his government of abusing its power and rigging elections in 2009.

Tensions between the two sides have been mounting for months and erupted into violent clashes last week in the capital Tirana. Three people were shot dead and more than 150 protesters injured at an opposition rally.

The Socialists, led by Edi Rama, are demanding early elections. But Berisha has bluntly rejected that and accused the Socialists of trying to stage a coup.

The EU, which Albania hopes to join one day, has urged the two leaders to resolve their differences peacefully. But what is behind the current crisis and is it really just a personal power struggle between two men who, according to some reports, have to bus their supporters in from the countryside to attend their rallies?

Inside Story, with presenter Sohail Rahman, discusses with guests: Muhamed Veilu, the UK correspondent for the Albanian TV channel Top Channel; Sam Vaknin, a former economic advisor to Macedonian, Czech, Yugoslavian and Serb governments; and Gezim Alpion, a lecturer in sociology at the University of Birmingham.

This episode of Inside Story aired on Thursday, January 27, 2011.