Bringing in a new era into how elections are held in Albania, incumbent Prime Minister Sali Berisha has gracefully accepted defeat, congratulated the election winners and resigned as Democratic Party leader after 22 years at the helm.
“I’ve always vowed the follow the verdict of the sovereign,” he said referring to Albanian voters. “The people spoke clearly in the election.”
The Democrats suffered a landslide loss to the Socialist-led coalition in Sunday’s elections.
Hundreds of Democratic Party supporters cheered Berisha at the party headquarters during his speech, some with tears in their eyes.
“We lost this election, and all responsibility for the loss falls only on one person, me,” Berisha said.
He said he would keep his MP seat but resign from all other functions in the party.
Berisha went on to list successes during the past eight years he served as prime minister, but not before he congratulated the election winners.
In more than two decades as a young democracy, this is the first time Albania is having a completely normal rotation of power not marred by violence, allegations of vote rigging and other problems — and not associated with system change — and the first time both sides have accepted the results and congratulated each other.