Albania: From Bunkers to Ballots

Issue Date January 2014
Volume 25
Issue 1
Page Numbers 142-53
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In Albania’s more than 20 years of postcommunist elections, all but one of the polls has resulted in disputed outcomes, political turmoil, and, in some cases, massive popular unrest. With the parliamentary elections of 23 June 2013, however, Albania seems to have turned an important corner in its democratic development. Faced with growing political conditionality from the European Union, the potential EU candidate held a relatively successful contest that produced a clear victory for the opposition coalition and was followed by a smooth transfer of power. This does not change the fact that the June elections went well in spite of, rather than thanks to, Albania’s institutions, which remain ineffective and politicized. Such apparent contradictions make Albania an interesting case study of the extent to which political conditionality – particularly related to EU accession – can encourage meaningful democratization.