Lulzim Basha will serve as head of the Albanian opposition, after the Tirana mayor won an internal election Tuesday to become the next leader of the Albania’s Democratic Party.
Basha won roughly 80 percent of the votes of the the internal election, which saw a roughly 41,000 members vote from about the 100,000 card-carrying members, the Democratic Party said.
His rival for the seat was Sokol Olldashi, a veteran member of parliament and cabinet minister. Olldashi expressed deep doubts about how the election was held, indicating the candidates were not treated equally and the results had been distorted by problems with the voter lists and pressure on members. But Olldashi added he would stay withing the party to meet future challenges.
Basha, takes over from outgoing Prime Minister Sali Berisha, who has dominated the party for more than two decades. Berisha resigned after the Democrats lost the July 23 national election in a landslide, leading to an internal party election open to all its members to select the next party leader. Many commentators see Basha as Berisha’s hand-picked successor, and the outgoing prime minister congratulated the new leader at a press conference at party headquarters.
Basha, 39, is a lawyer educated in the Netherlands who worked for the UN in Kosovo before returning to Albania ahead of the 2005 elections to join the Democratic Party. He has held important cabinet posts during the previous eight years, including heading the foreign and interior ministries.
He was elected Tirana mayor in 2011 by narrowly defeating incoming Prime Minister Edi Rama, in a hotly disputed process, which Rama has said was rigged.