OpEd

Albin's litmus test

Today VV has the golden opportunity to convince us that their dedication to the integrity of the institutions was just a political maneuver and not a sublime value. KPM is Albini's litmus test and in his own words: it's never too late to harvest

When we think of the death of democracy, usually the images that come to mind are those of Mussolini's march to Rome, the burning of the Reichstag or, finally, the attack on the American Congress. So our brain associates the end of democracy with a single dramatic event. But this is not how democracies die in most cases. Especially in the 21st century, democracies die as a result of a number of small acts, which little by little erode the democratic foundations of a country, to the point where the country wakes up one day in autocracy. Taken in isolation, these acts do not represent any dramatic event, but simply an "episode" that is quickly forgotten. For example, the arrest of an opposition politician, the closing of a media outlet, the dismissal of a judge, and so on. So, taken individually, these are incidents, but taken as a whole, these are the destruction of the democratic fiber of a country.

This is the recipe that all autocrats have passed on from Asia and Africa to America and Europe. Take Peru for example in 1990. Alberto Fujimori's life was a monotonous one. Professor of agriculture, who never dreamed of becoming a politician, let alone a dictator. But a chain of events and circumstances resulted in his election as president of Peru in 1990. As a political "outsider" he soon found himself in conflict with the traditional actors of power: the opposition, the media, the judiciary and businesses. Unaccustomed to democratic life, which requires understanding and compromises, he refused dialogue with the opposition, which he considered "the corrupt oligarchy that had destroyed the country". He labeled the judges who blocked his political agenda as "thugs" and "tyrants", while he considered the media enemies and terrorists. The situation escalated with kidnappings, threats and arrests of political leaders, judges and journalists. In short, for two years Peruvian society was divided between the new president Alberto Fujimori and Peru's traditional elite. The entire crisis would be resolved on April 5, 1992, when Fujimori led the nation by announcing the dissolution of Congress and the suspension of the constitution. Within two years, little by little, Peruvian democracy died.

The history of the death of democracies teaches us that we should be very careful about the vocabulary that politicians choose to use. Words preceded deeds. The use of harsh terms that arouse nationalist and hateful emotions are the first signs of the arrival of autocrats. Labeling ideological opponents with terms like "traitor", "enemy's pawn", the like, are the typical political arsenal of autocrats. "Dirty pigs", "enemies", "dirty oligarchs" are the terms that Hugo Chavez of Venezuela had chosen for his opponents. Rafael Correa of ​​Ecuador considered the media "a great political enemy that had to be defeated". Erdogan of Turkey considered journalists "terrorists". Here in our region, Vuçiqi regularly refers to the opposition as "traitors", while the media as "foreign agents". And history teaches us that democracies very often fall into the trap of tolerating comments such as "just words". But the problem is that these "words" little by little create a public environment where citizens begin to accept and tolerate the exercise of violence against "enemies of the state".

Another important tool in the arsenal of autocrats is the capture of institutions. In this regard, think of democracy as a football game. Whoever manages to corrupt the referee wins the game. Autocrats understand that democracy is not made by the letter and letter of the Constitution, but by the norms and institutional standards that are nurtured, respected and protected by political and institutional actors. Distortion of those norms and standards is a distortion of democracy. It's game breaking. Whoever captures the CEC wins the elections. Whoever captures the media, wins the news. Whoever captures TAK wins the businesses. Whoever captures the judiciary wins the law. And so on. This is the reason why Putin wins the elections in Russia, why the media has been destroyed in Serbia or why the judiciary has been destroyed in Hungary. Take the latter as an example. When Viktor Orbán realized that he had to bring the Constitutional Court under control, he did nothing extraordinary or dramatic. Through some "minor" and "technical" changes, he increased the number of female judges and ensured the appointment of his party's militants as new constitutional judges. Thus he secured a majority in the court and put another nail in the coffin of Hungarian democracy.

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When Albin Kurti came to power, he found the country in a dire state. After a decade of power of traditional parties, the quality of governance had reached its nadir. The dire situation in which Kosovo had reached had obliged the European Commission to describe the country as "captured state elements".

Consequently, one of Kurti's pledges was that the values, integrity and therefore the trust of the citizens will be returned to the institutions. In other words: state capture. And thus, case by case, the government has made efforts for the persons appointed to key institutional positions to represent higher values ​​of meritocracy, integrity and professionalism. In my opinion, in most cases the government has succeeded in implementing this goal, in some cases not. However beyond my opinion there is a broad consensus that the appointments made in the case of the Independent Media Commission respected the highest standards of transparency, meritocracy, integrity and professionalism. This was particularly important given the sensitive nature of the IMC's work. For any autocrat, the capture of the KPM would be an ideal opportunity to cement power over the media and society. Therefore, VV successfully passed the democratic test.

This is also the reason why I was surprised by the vehemence of some VV members against the KPM in recent days. The campaign organized and the language used against the KPM had all the hallmarks of a lynching campaign by an authoritarian regime aiming to break and capture an independent institution. Therefore, today VV has a golden opportunity to convince us that their dedication to the integrity of the institutions was just a political maneuver and not a sublime value. The KPM is Albini's litmus test and in his own words: it's never too late to take the plunge.

And, on the other hand, whatever happens with the KPM right now is not important. The goal has been achieved. The members of the IPC have shown to themselves, but also to others, that you can serve in public institutions with integrity. Since their arrival, they have done honor to themselves and the institution they serve. They have shown the citizens that there can be honest, professional and integrity institutions. And now, like the killing of St. Jacob by King Herod, the killing of the KPM by the VV will only bless them with the elevation of their honor.