Lulzim Basha

Lulzim Basha (listen ; born 12 June 1974) is an Albanian politician who served as the chairman of the Democratic Party of Albania, the main opposition party, from 2013 to March 21, 2022 when he stepped down from the leadership of the party.

Lulzim Basha
EPP Summit, Maastricht, October 2016 (30452537895) (cropped) (cropped).jpg
Leader of the Opposition
In office
15 September 2013 – 21 March 2022
Preceded byEdi Rama
Succeeded bySali Berisha
Chairman of Democratic Party
In office
23 July 2013 – 21 March 2022
Preceded bySali Berisha
Succeeded bySali Berisha
41st Mayor of Tirana
In office
25 July 2011 – 21 July 2015
Preceded byEdi Rama
Succeeded byErion Veliaj
28th Minister of the Interior
In office
17 September 2009 – 25 April 2011
Prime MinisterSali Berisha
Preceded byBujar Nishani
Succeeded byBujar Nishani
47th Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
24 April 2007 – 17 September 2009
Prime MinisterSali Berisha
Preceded byBesnik Mustafaj
Succeeded byIlir Meta
Minister of Public Works, Transport and Telecommunications
In office
11 September 2005 – 24 April 2007
Prime MinisterSali Berisha
Preceded bySpartak Poçi
Succeeded bySokol Olldashi
Personal details
Born (1974-06-12) 12 June 1974 (age 48)
Tirane, Albania
Political partyDemocratic Party
Alma materUtrecht University
Signature

Basha was elected as chairman of the Democratic Party of Albania in September 2013 following the Democratic Party's electoral loss which sent them in the opposition. In 2021, he became the first opposition leader in Albanian history to lose two general elections in a row, although Basha claimed the losses came as a result of significant electoral interference by the ruling Socialist Party.

With over 8 years at the helm of the Democratic Party of Albania, Lulzim Basha is the second longest serving chairman of the party after Sali Berisha, who was in charge for a total of 16 years.

Early life and educationEdit

Lulzim Basha was born in Tirana on 12 June 1974 to a Kosovo-Albanian mother and an Albanian father. From his mother's side, he is respectively from Mitrovica (grandfather) and Gjilan (grandmother).[1] After attending the Sami Frashëri High School, he studied law at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and worked for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia as member of the investigation team of war crimes of Serbian forces in Kosovo (1998–1999).[2]

In 2000, Basha joined the Department of Justice of the UN administration of Kosovo,[a] UNMIK, first as legal advisor and then as Deputy Chief of Cabinet of the Director of the UNMIK Justice Department since October 2001.[3] From November 2002 until January 2005 Basha served as special advisor for Transition in the same department.

Lulzim Basha is married to Aurela Basha a Dutch citizen, and they have two daughters, Victoria and Dafina.

Political careerEdit

Basha joined the Democratic Party of Albania in January 2005 and became a member of the party's leadership in May of that year. He has since held several ministerial positions in Democratic Party-led governments.

Berisha Cabinet (2005–2011)Edit

 
Basha with Condoleezza Rice

He served as the party's spokesperson during the 2005 parliamentary elections at which he was elected as the MP of Constituency #33 in Tirana.[citation needed] He was then nominated in the Berisha government as Minister of Public Works, Transport and Telecommunications, where he served for a period of two years.

After the 2009 election, Basha was nominated as Ministry of Internal Affairs in the new Berisha government. As Minister of Interior, he implemented all the required criteria for visa-free travel to the Schengen countries, including the modernisation of the Albanian border and immigration police system, the issuing of high security biometric passports and a tougher fight against criminal activity and criminal assets. These steps won international praise, notably by EUROPOL and other law enforcement bodies,[4] and led to the decision of the EU on 8 November 2010 to lift all travel visa requirements for Albanian citizens effective 15 December 2010.[5]

Mayor of Tirana (2011–2015)Edit

In 2011 Basha was the governing party's candidate for the post of Mayor of Tirana. He defeated the leader of the Socialist opposition, Edi Rama, by a very narrow margin (only 81 votes after the recount) in a hotly contested election.

 
Skanderbeg Square was reconstructed during Basha's Mayorship

During his term as mayor, Basha vowed to lead big reforms in his first hundred days in office, while promising to make the municipality more accessible to citizens and free of political conflicts.[6]

His main focus was the development of the new strategic urban plan, to increase investments and employment and solve the traffic problems in the city centre.

A draft was presented in May 2012 and it was considered as very important for the future economic development of the city. It was one of the first successes of Basha as Mayor of Tirana, but the plan was opposed by the opposition. The new Urban Development Plan proposed a number of measures, primarily with a focus on the road network and, to a smaller degree, on sustainable modes of transport. A tramway system in addition to the bus system was proposed and the plan also included the building of a new Boulevard in the northern part of the city and the rehabilitation of the Lanë.[7]

The earlier plan for the Skanderbeg Square was scrapped and a new one introduced. The use of the square by all motor vehicles will be restored through the construction of a narrower road segment around the center of the square including bicycle lanes. The existing green field south of Skanderbeg's statue was extended northward for a few hundred meters, while trees were planted in most places.[citation needed]

In May 2013 the City Hall launched an international tender for the construction of the capital's new northern boulevard, with a length of 1.8 km.[8] The project was expected to be finished before Basha's first mandate as mayor, but after the 2013 parliamentary election, the new Rama Government cut off most of the funds.[citation needed]

Basha didn't run for a 2nd mandate in the 2015 local elections, which were won by the Socialist Party candidate Erion Veliaj.[9]

Leader of the opposition (2013–2021)Edit

After the defeat of the Democratic Party-led coalition in the 2013 parliamentary election and the resignation of Sali Berisha as party leader, Basha was elected as chairman of the Democratic Party on 23 July 2013, following the first one-member-one-vote election in party's history.[10][11]

On 30 September 2014, a national congress of the Democratic Party was held to elect a new leadership.[12] In the congress a tough reform of the party was announced by Basha.[citation needed]

 
Basha during the EPP Congress in Madrid.

During his leadership numerous anti-government demonstrations have been held, accusing the government as corrupt and criminalised. On 2015 the Democratic Party proposed a Decriminalisation Law, which led to several months of negotiations with the government. Finally in December 2015, the law was passed by majority in the Parliament, barring people with criminal convictions from holding public office.[13]

On 11 December 2016 during the celebrations for the 26th anniversary of the Democratic Party, party leader Lulzim Basha announced his program for the further modernization and democratisation of the party ahead of the 2017 parliamentary elections.[citation needed]

After previously promising that 35% of the parliamentary candidates would consist of members from the youth movement of the Party, Basha now announced a limitations of all mandates of the party leaders to a two-year term, and the full democratisation of the internal election process.[14]

On 18 February 2017 members of the Democratic Party and other opposition parties, under the leadership of Lulzim Basha pitched a giant tent outside the Prime Minister's office in Tirana after thousands of protesters rallied to demand free elections and a technocrat government. The opposition protest further escalated into a larger political conflict. The Democratic Party and its allies refused to register to take part in the 18 June general election, until the government will accept their conditions to secure a free and democratic election.[15][16]

Political positionsEdit

EU IntegrationEdit

 
Basha meeting with leaders of the European People's Party during the EPP Summit, March 2015, Brussels

Basha is a strong supporter of Albania joining the EU.[17][18]

EconomyEdit

During the 2017 Albanian parliamentary election he proposed reinstating the flat tax at a 9% rate.[19] The flat tax was a form of taxation which had been applied by Berisha's government between 2005 and 2013.[20]

Foreign AffairsEdit

In June 2017, Basha met with President Donald Trump during a visit to the US as part of participation in White House Workforce Development week.[21]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Basha: Unë jam nip Kosove, gjyshi im është larguar nga Drenica prej presionit e masakrave serbe" [Basha: I am a grandson of Kosovo, my grandfather left Drenica due to the pressure of Serbian massacres]. Drenica Press (in Albanian). 13 November 2020. Unë jam nip Kosove, gjyshi im është nga Mitrovica e gjyshja nga Gjilani
  2. ^ "Albania pins its hopes on youthful government". Kosovareport. Reuters. 8 September 2005. Retrieved 24 December 2007.
  3. ^ "Kush është Lulzim Basha?" [Who is Lulzim Basha?] (in Albanian). Albeu.com. 1 April 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  4. ^ "Shefi i Europol: Me mbresa nga progresi i Shqipërisë". Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  5. ^ "Visa Liberalisation enters into force in December 2010". Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  6. ^ "Lulzim Basha Sworn in as Tirana Mayor". 26 July 2011.
  7. ^ "New Urban Development Plan of Tirana sets direction for road network development (Albania) - Eltis". eltis.org. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  8. ^ Times, Tirana (31 May 2013). "City Hall launches international tender for Tirana new north boulevard". Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  9. ^ "Erion Veliaj takes office as Mayor of Tirana". Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  10. ^ "Basha Elected Head of Albania's Democrats :: Balkan Insight". balkaninsight.com. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  11. ^ Times, Tirana (26 July 2013). "Basha elected new Democratic Party leader". Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  12. ^ albania-opposition-party-elects-new-leadership
  13. ^ "Albania MPs to Vote on 'Decriminalising Politics' :: Balkan Insight". balkaninsight.com. 25 November 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  14. ^ "Basha Announces Thorough Reform of PD - Exit". 11 December 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  15. ^ "Albanian protesters rally, pitch tent to demand free elections". Reuters. 18 February 2017.
  16. ^ "Albania Opposition Parties to Boycott June Elections". Balkan Insight. 11 April 2017. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  17. ^ "Basha discusses EU integration with EPP President Daul". 5 December 2017.
  18. ^ "EPP - European People's Party".
  19. ^ "Basha in Has: "My first decision as PM, flat tax and reducing VAT"".
  20. ^ "Albanian opposition demands the return of the flat tax". 8 August 2018.
  21. ^ Shera, Urim (14 June 2017). "Basha: Extraordinary meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump". Retrieved 14 June 2017.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Affairs
2007–2009
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of the Interior
2009–2011
Succeeded by
Preceded by Mayor of Tirana
2011–2015
Succeeded by
Preceded by Leader of the Opposition
2013–2021
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Leader of the Democratic Party
2013–2021
Succeeded by