Peace Corps had me and the other volunteers recently fill out a trimester report to report back to DC what exactly we are doing over here in Albania. On the report is a open answer writing section for recording how integrated we feel in our community, a factor which Peace Corps stresses is key to fulfilling professional and personal lives here. I filled it out to the best of my ability but I have had this question in the back of my head ever since: after one year How integrated am I, really?
The answer came to me the other day and its good…but bad. I know I am integrated because the national election is stressing me out.
Why does being stressed make me like the other people in my town? In part directly and in part indirectly. Indirectly because nearly all current government employees, my friends and colleagues, are facing unemployment if Edi Rama wins. The result is a town whose employees are notably stressed. This stress is passed on to me because after a year of relationship building, I may have to do it all over again with new people. Grants and projects are in jeopardy. It is not a complete reset but it is the last thing I need with less than a year to complete some projects in Albania.
But more directly, what weighs most heavily on my mind is that there is a small but real chance that after the election Albania will become disorderly enough that Peace Corps will have to pull us out for our safety as they did in 1997.
Could it happen, really? The more I reflect on it, the more I think so. Two reasons why I think so is first the low intellectual level of the contest and second election results that have never been reliable ever. In America, there are philosophical differences between the parties. the parties can have an informed debate weighing the costs and benefits of government regulations, for example. When one side loses, there is soul searching and evaluation “we should we have chosen a different platform? focused more on social issues? chosen a nutty candidate from Alaska?” In Albania, there are no philosophical differences between the left and right alliances. What is going to happen when half the country loses and instead of admitting defeat in a democratic contest of ideas, they clam with some credibility that they were literally robbed of victory by the Bad People who are Bad and do Bad Things?
We will know soon enough.
Perhaps you can see why this has me stressed. Enjoy this last kitteh and have a good one. See the links below for more information on the Albanian national parliamentary elections.
Old habits die hard as Albania election draws near Business News Europe