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Striving Towards a Consensus

Striving Towards a Consensus

No. 3, Jan.-Feb. 2017 » UNCOVERstory

Almost a century ago today, Winston Churchill said that the Balkans produce more history than they can consume. It seems like this has remained unchanged over the years and Albania is no exception.

Along with political events and conflicts in Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia, recent and momentous political developments are taking place in one of the most important countries for the stability of the Western Balkans. A few months before the general parliamentary elections to be held on June 18th, the opposition boycotted Parliament and decided to protest in the streets. They have built a tent in front of the government building and have been protesting for the past two months in favour of free and fair conditions for the upcoming elections. They believe that the future elections are in doubt because of individuals with criminal records in the Parliament, the deterioration of the economic situation of Albanians and the money coming from the criminal economy (accusing the state of permitting the planting of drugs – especially marijuana). It is certainly their right to protest but at the same time they are losing the opportunity for a real confrontation of concepts, ideas and alternatives in the Parliament. As a solution to all the uncertainties, the opposition calls for the formation of a technocratic government that would provide the necessary guarantees for elections held according to standards. Without this government, they refuse to enter in a pre-manipulated process (according to them) and have therefore neglected all of the legal deadlines to register in the elections, thus creating chaos that threatens the country’s political stability.

As a solution to all the uncertainties, the opposition calls for the formation of a technocratic government that would provide the necessary guarantees for elections held according to standards.

On the other side, the government considers this protest unnecessary and meaningless just a few months before the elections. They say that all the accusations of the opposition are false and indicate their incapacity to enter and win by procedural democratic means. They think they have a full mandate to govern the country and have no reason to resign. According to the government, the main reason why the opposition refuses to enter the Parliament is their unwillingness to advance with the reform of the judiciary system, which is considered to be the most important reform for the country’s European prospects. The Prime Minister repeatedly invited the opposition to dialogue and, through it, to achieve consensus on all necessary changes in the electoral law that provide guarantees for free and fair elections. An effort for consensus was also made by our international partners from European Parliament.

All the above were unsuccessful. It appears to be a complex game played by political players and underlying factors which determine the fate of Albanian society. The best result would be to have a partnership where the players work together for the general good. Unfortunately, this is not happening in the country where every leader considers himself a master or a beautiful mind.

 “A Beautiful Mind” is a movie literally representing the life of John Nash. For those unaware, John Forbes Nash is a Nobel Laureate in Economics. He is an American mathematician who established the mathematical principles of Game Theory, which describes the dynamics of threat and action between competitors with mixed interests. Nash talks of non-cooperative players who enter into no agreement and each one is looking after his own interests. You must follow a strategy which aims to do what is best for yourself, taking as given what others around you are doing. Even in such a complex game, there is an equilibrium where no side would benefit by changing its course. This is called a Nash equilibrium and it is exactly what we are looking for in our political situation.

Supposedly the government and opposition are trying to coordinate their actions to give the country free and fair elections. The opposition is proposing two options: technocratic government or no elections (meaning elections without opposition). The government is proposing a governing team roster with some changes that would be amenable to the opposition (but still a political formula) or elections without opposition. The second option for both is not the best outcome in these times. The dialogue that would offer a solution where both parties can benefit would be considered as the equilibrium point that is good not only for individuals but for the entire Albanian society.

 
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OEconomica No. 1, 2016