Fall of communism in Albania

Last updated
Fall of Communism in Albania
Fall of Communism in Albania.JPG
The toppling of Enver Hoxha's statue
in central Tirana
DateDecember 11, 1990 (1990-12-11)
Location Albania, mainly Shkodër, Kavajë, and Tirana
Territory of former Eastern Bloc states with the dates that Communist rule ended. Dates of declaring independence for former USSR states. EasternBloc PostDissolution2008.svg
Territory of former Eastern Bloc states with the dates that Communist rule ended. Dates of declaring independence for former USSR states.

The fall of Communism in Albania, the last such event in Europe outside the USSR, started in earnest in December 1990 with student demonstrations in the capital, Tirana, although protests had begun earlier that year in other cities such as Shkodra and Kavaja. [1] The Central Committee of the communist Party of Labour of Albania allowed political pluralism on 11 December and the largest opposition party, the Democratic Party, was founded the next day. [2] March 1991 elections left the Party of Labour in power, but a general strike and urban opposition led to the formation of a "stability government" that included non-communists. Albania's former communists were routed in elections in March 1992 amid economic collapse and social unrest, with the Democratic Party winning most seats and its party head, Sali Berisha, becoming president.



Enver Hoxha, who ruled the Socialist People's Republic of Albania for four decades, died on April 11, 1985. Ramiz Alia succeeded Hoxha as the First Secretary of the Party of Labour, and gradually introduced economic reforms and opened diplomatic ties with Western European countries. [3]

During the revolutions of 1989 many Albanians remained unaware of events due to the dearth of information within the isolated state. Some Albanians did not even know that the Berlin Wall had fallen in November 1989. [4]

In January 1990, the first revolts started in Shkodra, where a few hundred people wanted to demolish Joseph Stalin's statue, and from there they spread to a few other cities. Eventually, the existing regime introduced some liberalization, including measures in 1990 providing for freedom to travel abroad. Efforts were begun to improve ties with the outside world.

Mikhail Gorbachev had adopted new policies of glasnost and perestroika in the Soviet Union in 1985. After Nicolae Ceauşescu, the communist leader of Romania, was executed during the Romanian Revolution of 1989, Alia knew that he might be next if radical changes were not made. He then signed the Helsinki Agreement which then forced conformity to Western European human rights standards. Alia also organized a meeting with leading intellectuals of the time on ways to reform the Albanian political system. Under Alia, the first pluralist elections took place since the communists took power in Albania in 1944. Alia's party won the election of March 31, 1991. [5]

Nevertheless, it was clear that the transition to capitalism would not be stopped. Many leading members of the newly formed Democratic Party wore light trench coats during demonstrations, while Sali Berisha, then still a Party of Labour member, was heard thanking Ramiz Alia when addressing the students protests, and was seen driving around Skanderbeg Square with a government vehicle. [6] [7] Meanwhile, a student demonstration was crushed by the state police in Tirana's Student City dormitories. Ramiz Alia invited a delegation of University of Tirana students to discuss their concerns and come up with a compromise.

The communists managed to retain control of the government in the first round of elections, but fell two months later during a general strike. A committee of "national salvation" took over but also collapsed within six months. [8] Alia resigned as president and was succeeded by Berisha, the first democratically elected leader of Albania since Bishop Fan Noli.

Post-communist government

The change from communism to capitalism evidently had many challenges. The Democratic Party had to implement the reforms it had promised, but they were either too slow or did not solve the nation's problems, so people were disappointed when their hopes for fast prosperity went unfulfilled. Many Albanians were also frustrated by Sali Berisha's growing authoritarianism, including pressure on the opposition, media and civil society. [9] In the general elections of June 1996, the Democratic Party tried to win an absolute majority and manipulated the results. [10]

The government fell in 1997 after the collapse of a number of large "pyramid schemes" (more accurately, Ponzi schemes) and widespread corruption, which caused disorder and rebellion throughout the country. [11] The government attempted to suppress the revolt by force but the attempt failed, due to low morale and corruption in the armed forces. [2] With the help of international mediation led by OSCE special envoy Franz Vranitzky, the ruling and opposition parties agreed to form a Reconciliation Government and to hold new elections. To secure calm and to prevent an outward refugee flow, nine states contributed military forces to an international force called Operation Alba. [12]

Elections in June 1997 brought the opposition Socialist Party (former communist party) to power, and it ruled under various prime ministers until 2005. The Democratic Party won parliamentary elections in 2005 and 2009, and Albania was governed again by Sali Berisha, this time as prime minister. The Socialist Party won the elections in 2013, and is governed by its party head and Prime Minister Edi Rama.

According to the constitution, approved by referendum on November 22, 1998, promulgated on November 28, 1998, and amended in January 2007, Albania has a democratic system of government with separation of powers and protection of fundamental human rights. [13]

Since the end of communism, the country became more aligned towards the West than its, albeit unenthused, relations with Russia or China. Albania joined NATO in 2009 and is aiming to join the European Union in the future.

See also

Further reading

Related Research Articles

Enver Hoxha The Communist leader of Albania from 1944 until his death in 1985, as the First Secretary of the Party of Labour of Albania

Enver Hoxha was an Albanian politician who served as the First Secretary of the Party of Labour of Albania, from 1941 until his death in 1985. He was also a member of Politburo of the Party of Labour of Albania, chairman of the Democratic Front of Albania, commander-in-chief of the armed forces from 1944 until his death. He served as the 22nd Prime Minister of Albania from 1944 to 1954 and at various times served as foreign minister and defence minister of People's Socialist Republic of Albania as well.

Chronology of Important Events of Albania:

Ramiz Alia Albanian politician, 1st President of the Republic of Albania

Ramiz Tafë Alia was the second and last leader of the People's Socialist Republic of Albania from 1985 to 1991, served as First Secretary of the Party of Labor of Albania. He was also the country's head of state from 1982 to 1992. He had been designated as successor by Enver Hoxha and took power after Hoxha died. Alia died on 7 October 2011 in Tirana due to lung disease, aged 85.

Sali Berisha Albanian politician and filoserb he helped the Serbian army with oil during the embargo

Sali Ram Berisha , is an Albanian cardiologist and conservative politician who served as the second President of Albania from 1992 to 1997 and Prime Minister from 2005 to 2013. He was also the leader of the Democratic Party of Albania twice, from 1991 to 1992 and then again from 1997 to 2013. To date, Berisha is the longest-serving democratically elected leader and the only Prime Minister to serve two full terms since the end of Communism.

President of Albania head of state of Albania and commander-in-chief of the Albanian military

The president of Albania, officially styled President of the Republic of Albania is the head of state, commander-in-chief of the military and the representative of the unity of the Albanian people.

Fatos Nano Albanian politician

Fatos Thanas Nanolisten  is an Albanian socialist politician who was the Prime Minister of Albania several times; he was the first leader and founder of the Socialist Party of Albania and a member of the Albanian Parliament from 1991 to 1996 and 1997 to 2009. He reformed the Anti-Revisionist Marxist-Leninist ideology of the Labor Party of Albania into social democracy for its successor, the Socialist Party. During his leadership, the Socialist Party, as a result of reforms, joined the Socialist International and Party of European Socialists. Nano was a candidate in the 2007 presidential election but did not win. He again tried in the 2012 presidential election, but he did not even qualify as a candidate, because the leaders of parties in Parliament obstructed their respective MPs to elect him as candidate in the elections.

The Socialist Party of Albania, is a social-democratic political party in Albania; it gained power following the 2013 parliamentary election. The party seated 66 MPs in the 2009 Albanian parliament. It achieved power in 1997 following a political crisis and governmental realignment. At the 2001 parliamentary election the party secured 73 seats, which enabled it to form a government. At the general election of 3 July 2005, the Socialist Party lost its majority and the Democratic Party of Albania (PD) formed the new government, having secured, with its allies, a majority of 81 seats.

The Democratic Party of Albania is a conservative political party in Albania. They became the leading party in the governing coalition following the 2005 parliamentary elections. It is an associate member of the European People's Party (EPP) and a full member of the International Democrat Union and Centrist Democrat International. Rilindja Demokratike is the party's official newspaper. Its youth organisation, FRPD, is one of the founders of the Youth of the European People's Party (YEPP), in which they are also full active members.

Azem Hajdari Albanian politician

Azem Shpend Hajdari was the leader of the student movement in 1990–1991 that led to the fall of communism in Albania. He then became a politician of the Democratic Party of Albania (DP). He symbolizes the start of the democratic era in Albania. He was a member of the Albanian parliament and the Chairman of the Defence Parliamentary Commission. He was assassinated in Tirana on September 12, 1998.

Kastriot Selman Islami is an Albanian politician. He was Chairman of the Parliament of Albania from April 17, 1991 to April 6, 1992. On April 3, 1992, when the last communist president, Ramiz Alia resigned, Islami served as acting president for three days. During the presidency of Sali Berisha (1992–1997), Islami had no important positions in the government, but from 1997 to 2005 he was an important person in the government again. Most prominently he was foreign minister from 2003 to 2005, but lost his position in the cabinet when a new government was formed with Berisha as prime minister after the 2005 elections. He returned to Democratic Party on 7 May 2013 after he left the Socialist Party in March.

Party of Labour of Albania 1941-1991 political party in Albania

The Party of Labour of Albania (PLA), sometimes referred to as the Albanian Workers' Party (AWP), was the vanguard party of Albania during the communist period (1945–1991) as well as the only legal political party. It was founded on 8 November 1941, as the Communist Party of Albania, but its name was changed in 1948. In 1991, the party was succeeded by the Socialist Party of Albania. For most of its existence, the party was dominated by its First Secretary, Enver Hoxha, who was also the de facto leader of Albania.

Albanian Civil War 1997 unrest in Albania

The Albanian Civil Unrest of 1997, also known as the Albanian rebellion, Albanian unrest or the Pyramid crisis, was a period of civil disorder in Albania in 1997, sparked by pyramid scheme failures. The government was toppled and more than 2,000 people were killed. It is considered to be either a rebellion, a civil war, or a rebellion that escalated into a civil war.

Peoples Socialist Republic of Albania 1944-1991 republic in Southeastern Europe, predecessor of modern Albania

Albania, officially the People's Socialist Republic of Albania, was ruled by a Marxist-Leninist government from 1946 to 1992. From 1944 to 1946, it was known as the Democratic Government of Albania and from 1946 to 1976 it was known as the People's Republic of Albania.

Fatos Lubonja Albanian writer and dissident

Fatos Lubonja is an Albanian writer, analyst and dissident.

In 1991, the Socialist Party of Albania, with specific social democratic ideology took control of the country through democratic elections. One year later the Democratic Party of Albania won the new elections. After 1990, Albania has been seeking a closer relationship with the West. What followed were deliberate programs of economic and democratic reform, but Albanian inexperience with capitalism led to the proliferation of pyramid schemes – which were not banned due to the corruption of the government. Chaos in late 1996 to early 1997, as a result of the collapse of these pyramid schemes, alarmed the world and prompted the influx of international peacekeeping forces. In 1995, Albania was accepted into the Council of Europe and requested membership in NATO and is a potential candidate country for accession to the European Union. The workforce of Albania has continued to emigrate to Western countries, especially Greece and Italy.

Parliamentary elections for a Constituent Assembly were held in Albania on 2 December 1945. The Democratic Front, organized and led by the Communist Party of Albania, won all 82 seats.

Constitutional Assembly elections were held in the People's Socialist Republic of Albania on 31 March 1991, with later rounds on 7 April and 14 April. They were the first multi-party elections since 1923, and were held after the formation of new political parties was legalised on 11 December 1990 following a strike by 700 students at the University of Tirana over poor dormitory conditions and a power failure, which subsequently became politicised under the influence of Sali Berisha.

2011 Albanian opposition demonstrations

The 2011 Albanian opposition demonstrations were series of anti-government protests in cities around Albania following 18 months of political conflict over alleged electoral fraud by the opposition. A video surfaced which portrayed the vice-prime minister arranging a corrupt deal with the minister of economy. The public outcry over the video resulted in the resignation of the deputy prime minister. A demonstration was called by parliamentary opposition parties, which include the Socialist Party and the Unity for Human Rights Party. These were called on 21 January in order to protest the alleged corruption of the Albanian government as well as widespread unemployment and poverty in the country.

Bedri Spahiu was an Albanian politician and Lieutenant-General and one of the most prominent figures of the Albanian Labour Party up to 1956.

Pirro Kondi is a former Albanian politician of the Albanian Party of Labour (PPSh). Coming from a family with strong communist background, he became member of the Albanian Parliament and a candidate-member of the Politburo of the Party of Labour of Albania by the '80.


  1. Mysteries of December 1990 (Misteret e Dhjetoret) Archived 2011-02-11 at the Wayback Machine , TV Klan.
  2. 1 2 Abrahams, Fred C. (2015). Modern Albania: From Dictatorship to Democracy. New York: NYU Press. pp. 169–221. ISBN   0814705111.
  3. Lami, Remzi. "Albania: nine years after". AIM Tirana. Archived from the original on August 3, 2003. Retrieved 21 November 2010.
  4. Albania and the European Union: the tumultuous journey towards integration. p. 21. Retrieved 2011-06-27.
  5. "Project MUSE - Journal of Democracy". muse.jhu.edu. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  6. Lenci lorenc (17 July 2009). "Sali Berisha cun i ri" . Retrieved 21 March 2018 via YouTube.
  7. OLTIONPENGU (25 June 2009). "I Panjohuri" . Retrieved 21 March 2018 via YouTube.
  8. "Project MUSE - Journal of Democracy". muse.jhu.edu. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  9. Human Rights Watch, Human Rights in Post-communist Albania, March 1, 1996.
  10. Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Parliamentary Elections 26 May and 2 June: Observations, July 2, 1996.
  11. Vaughan-Whitehead, Daniel (1999). Albania in Crisis: The Predictable Fall of the Shining Star. Edward Elgar Pub. ISBN   1840640707.
  12. The nine participating states were: Austria, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, and Turkey.
  13. Constitution of the Republic of Albania.