October 02, 2005

The 2005 Albanian Election Study Results

This post includes some comments on the results of the 2005 Albanian Election Study survey.

The survey data suggest that the Albanian voters share sophisticated and strong perceptions about the political situation and the state of democracy in the country. Thus, while 96 percent of the voters believe in democracy and 63 percent express high levels of internal political efficacy (i.e. the belief that it is important to exercise one’s political rights such as the right to vote), over 60 percent of them are either unsatisfied or not satisfied at all with the way democracy functions in Albania. At the same time, about 94 percent believe that individual and human rights are respected only to some degree - with 40 percent saying that there is little or no respect at all for individual and human rights in Albania.

Study results suggest that the two main political parties, the Democratic Party in power and the Socialist Party, now in opposition, have strong and loyal electoral bases [Chart C28]. The survey results hint that it was the voters’ attitude toward the party leaders that may have played the pivotal role in their vote choice decision. Thus, 56 percent of the respondents characterized the former Socialist Party leader, Fatos Nano, as not honest; 62 percent believed that he did not really care about people like them; and 53 percent reported that they feel angry toward him. This compares to a rather favorable view toward the Democratic Party leader, Sali Berisha. At least 57 percent characterized Berisha as honest, and most of the people reported that Berisha made them feel hopeful and that they believed he really cares about their problems. In addition, voters appear to be weary of political instability and weak governance in the country. Asked about the main problem that Albania has faced in the last four years, voters ranked political instability (most commonly expressed as “bickering among politicians”) and weak governance at the same level with water and electricity shortages, the later being constant problems in Albania.

Voters appear to have strong and unfavorable views for Leka Zogu, the heir to the Albanian throne, and his political movement, LZhK. Of those who do share a favorable view about him and LZhK, about 60 percent listed the Democratic Party as their second choice, and 40 percent listed the Socialist Party or the Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI) as their second choice. These figures are within the margin of statistical error.

Voters’ evaluation of the LSI leader, Ilir Meta, is all over the place. Survey results imply that the electorate was not entirely convinced about the honesty and sincerity of his motivations. Additionally, they do not appear to perceive him as a very strong and capable leader, qualities that were at the center of the LSI electoral strategy. Voters’ evaluation of political leaders is presented in pages 21 through 27 of the non-technical report.

At the end, this appears to have been an electoral campaign shaped by the negative perceptions about the Socialist Party leadership and the populist campaign promises of the Democratic Party. About 40 percent of the respondents stated that the number one problem they would like the new government to deal with is unemployment and poverty reduction, followed by the fight against corruption. At the same time, they listed corruption as the number one problem that Albania has faced in the last four years [Chart C11] (in another question 78 percent reported that they believe corruption is very widespread among politicians, Chart C48). By blaming corruption as the universal diagnosis of all the ills of the Albanian economy and society, the Democratic Party has successfully copied a page from the “clean-hands” populist electoral campaigns that we have seen in other countries before. It seems that once corruption and poverty were established as the defining issues of the electoral campaign, the public perception of Sali Berisha was also cast in that context i.e. as an honest leader who cares about the poor rather than as a former authoritarian president. The Socialist Party’s electoral strategy of invoking the events of 1997 may have been too late and out of the sync with the voters.

Asked about who they most wanted to be the next Prime Minister, 26 percent of the respondents mentioned Sali Berisha as their choice; Edi Rama was the second choice with 21 percent. In addition, Sali Berisha had the support of 55 percent of the democratic (or blue) voters. Edi Rama was the PM choice of 32 percent of the respondents who identified with the Socialist Party, its allies or LSI. It is interesting that Edi Rama was the PM choice of about 6 percent of the blue voters and 18 percent of the LSI voters in our survey. These results are reported in Charts C31 through C31/PID (pp. 13-16).

We also report age, education levels, religious denominations and ethnic self-identification of the respondents. As concerns age and political party identification, about 70 percent of the Democratic Party (DP) supporters are in the age group 18 – 49 years old. About 68 percent of the Socialist Party (SP) supports are in the 40 years old and above. DP had the support of 61 percent of the respondents in the 30-39 years old category, and 54 percent of respondents in the 18-29 years old category. One explanation could be that the 30-39 years old category is the generation of the anti-communist “revolution”, those who were in their twenties in early 1990s and have stayed loyal to DP. The 18-29 year olds have become adults in the post-communist period when the SP was in power for the last eight years. They seem to have more of a “protest against Socialist Party” kind of affiliation with the DP as shown by the fact that LSI and Edi Rama also draw sizeable support from this age group. LSI draws most of its supporters from the 18-29 and 40-49 age categories. As concerns educational levels and party identification, we notice that the Socialist Party and LSI, combined, have an advantage over Democratic Party among respondents with a university degree or higher. In addition, we notice that LSI has attracted the younger and the more educated supporters of the Socialist Party.

Perhaps, one should be cautious about how much to read into our estimations of religious denomination and ethnicity as our sample captures only the voting age population that currently resides in Albania. Our data say nothing about Albanian emigrants in other countries (by some estimates up to 30 percent of the population). We need further surveys to study political and socio-demographic characteristics of the Albanian emigrants. 70 percent of the respondents in our survey stated Islam as their religion but only 7.5 percent knew if they were Sunni or Bektashi Muslims. In addition, over 46 percent stated that they never practice their religion, and 14 percent go to church or mosque very rarely. This could mean that religious denominations are, for the most part, only nominal labels. About 15 percent of the respondents said they were Orthodox, and 13 percent Catholics. On ethnicity, 96 percent identified themselves as Albanians. Among them, only 16 percent identified themselves as either Ghegs or Tosks. Ghegs were twice as likely to self-identify as compared to Tosks, this probably being a consequence of the decades long alienation of Ghegs by the former communist regime.

AES is primarily an academic study and its main product is the dataset that will be deposited with CSES. We put together some data in charts and tables for the benefit of the non-academic community. Hopefully, they are of some value in understanding the electoral beahavior in Albania as manifested in the July 3rd, 2005 Albanian parliamentary election.

Download the complete report in English.

Download the complete report in Albanian.

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Posted by Altin at 06:42 PM | Comments (0)