Albania Political System

Political system

Short for AL, Albania is a republic, whose president mainly has a ceremonial role. The executive power lies with the government. The legislative parliament is dominated by two political parties: the Conservative Democratic Party (PD) and the Socialist Party (PS). Between the two, there is a deep conflict with historical roots. The prime minister is appointed by the president on a proposal by the party or party alliance that has a majority in parliament. The judiciary and party politics are plagued by corruption and the influence of organized crime.

Albania’s current constitution was adopted in 1998. It replaced a provisional constitution from 1991, when the country’s communist dictatorship fell. Some constitutional amendments have been made since 1998, including the Election Act 2008, and in 2016 Parliament adopted a comprehensive judicial reform which requires a number of amendments to the constitution (see Current policy).

The legislative power lies with Parliament (Kuvendi Popullor), who is elected for four years at a time. As of the 2009 parliamentary elections, all 140 members are elected in proportionate elections; previously, 100 of them were selected in one-man election circles. At the same time, the threshold for parliamentary seats was raised, from 2.5 to 3 percent of the votes for individual parties, and from 4 to 5 percent for party alliances. The change came about after a settlement between the two dominant parties and is considered to favor them.

The government is the highest executive body. The President, who is Head of State and Commander-in-Chief, is elected by Parliament by a minimum of three-fifths majority for a term of five years and may be re-elected once. If no president is elected after five votes, a new election is held for Parliament. The President approves the composition of the government and appoints the members of the Supreme Court, which must be approved by Parliament. The President may not have any formal party affiliation.

Administratively, Albania is divided into 12 counties and 36 districts. Each district has a governor and a municipal council, which appoints the governor.

Political parties

Albanian politics is characterized by strong contradictions between the Socialist Party of Albania (Partia Socialiste e Shqipërisë, PS, also PSSh) and the Democratic Party of Albania (Partia Demokratike e Shqipërisë, PD, also PDSh). The ideological differences between them are in fact small. PS has the strongest support in the south, while PD is the largest in the north. Conflicts also occur within the parties, which has led to many smaller breaker parties being formed.

PD was founded in 1990 and has its roots in the student movement. Active anti-Communists then joined the party, which was ideologically close to Western Europe’s conservative and Christian democratic parties. Sali Berisha was party leader until 2013 and was sometimes criticized for acting authoritatively. PD led government coalitions in 1992–1997 and returned to power in 2005. After losing in the 2013 elections, Berisha resigned as party leader and was succeeded by Lulzim Basha.

The Socialist Party has evolved from the old power-carrying Communist Party and led governments in 1997-2005 and returned to power in 2013. The party has been characterized by contradictions between representatives of the “old guard”, with former party leader Fatos Nano at the head, and more reform-friendly forces. Nano resigned as party leader in 2005 and was replaced by Edi Rama, who did not support Nano when he was running for president in 2007. Edi Rama has been prime minister since 2013.

Previously, the contradictions were fierce between Nano and party colleague Ilir Meta, who was also prime minister. However, Meta broke away from the Socialist Party in 2004 and formed the Socialist Movement for Integration (Lëvizja Socialiste për Integrim, LSI). The Social Democratic LSI was a member of both the PD government in 2009-2013 and the PS government from 2013. Ilir Meta left the party leader post when he became president in 2017 and LSI is now led by Monika Kryemadhi.

Among smaller parties that have collaborated with the socialists are the Albanian Social Democratic Party (Partia Socialdemokrate e Shqipërisë, PSD) and the middle party Democratic Alliance Party (Partia Aleanca Demokratike, PAD), which broke out of PD in the early 1990s.

Some of the Conservative parties that have worked with the PD are the Republican Party of Albania (Partia Republikane e Shqipërisë, PR), the Agrara Environmental Party (Partia Agrare Ambientaliste, PAA) and the Union for Human Rights (Partia Bashkimi për të Drejtat e Njeriut, PBDNJ). The latter represents the Greek and Macedonian minorities. In 2012, defectors from PD formed the new party New Democratic Spirit (Fryma e Re Demokratike, FRD), who said they wanted to represent the emerging middle class who did not feel at home in any of the old parties.

Civil society is considered to have little opportunity to make its voice heard. NGOs complain about close links between the political parties, the business community and the media, which make it difficult for other groups to influence development.

Albania Urban Population



General military duty is abolished

Parliament votes to abolish the general military duty at year-end 2009/2010.


Albania offered NATO membership

Sixteen years after Albania submitted an application for entry into NATO, the country is offered membership in the Western Defense Alliance.


The Minister of Defense resigns after an explosion in army storage

Twenty-six people are killed and around 300 injured when an army warehouse outside the capital Tirana explodes. The accident occurs when soldiers are to destroy old ammunition for security reasons. Over 300 buildings nearby are totally destroyed. The accident is believed to have been due to carelessness and leads to the departure of the Minister of Defense.


Recognizes Kosovo’s independence

February 18

Albania officially recognizes Kosovo as a sovereign state, one day after the country unilaterally declared itself independent.