When in 2014 DUI leader Ali Ahmeti uncompromisingly announced that he would withdraw from politics when Macedonia became part of NATO, he probably did not even believe that this would happen in five years. In times when the last pieces of the Skopje 2014 project were put into place, and thus chances for an agreement with Greece being removed, Ahmeti, who loyally served Nikola Gruevski, thought it would be easier to make a promise that he thought would never be tested. As for a number of other things that he said dishonestly, Ahmeti does not even plan to keep the word now when Macedonia’s entry into the Alliance is just a matter of technique.
“It’s pointless to even talk about this subject,” said Artan Grubi, current lawmaker in the Parliament and head of his cabinet, with whom he also has familial ties
His seat is safe
Sources from the Democratic Union of Albanians say that Ahmeti’s withdrawal from his party’s head position has not been discussed at all. The past period was focused on the implementation of the name agreement, and now they have focused on reforms in order to get a recommendation to start negotiations with the European Union, which is why they do not support the scheduling of early general elections.
“The president’s seat is safe,” our interlocutor claims.
According to him, DUI faced its worst times when the VMRO-DPMNE-led government was dismantling, and major part of the country’s citizens, as well as Albanian voters, demanded accountability from the leadership of DUI. This resulted in the weakest election result since its existence. In December 2016, DUI won 80,000 votes, while many Albanians voted for SDSM.
Thanks to the dozens of lawmakers who proved to be crucial in forming a government with the Social Democrats, DUI were excluded quite elegantly from the so called “bombs”, in which we could rarely hear any of their voices. For the past two years, they have used the comfort of the government building on Ilinden Street to blackmail their new coalition partner to fulfill their demands, which they later present as a great success in improving the rights of Albanians in the country. The Law on Languages even forced the usually calm prime minister to tell them that this was not only their victory, but also a victory for everyone who voted “in favour”. The Albanian “link” required in the consensual candidate for the presidency of the state will not pass, even DUI knows this, but uses it as an argument for giving a concession, which will later come to collect.
“Our rating is extremely good and if we decide to go to elections today, we will have at least 2.5 times better result than the one we had in 2016,” says Deputy Prime Minister Bujar Osmani with great confidence.
No strategy for his successor
He is, in fact, the only visible DUI minister in the DUI ranks, so it is not surprising that he and Gruba are both mentioned as future leaders of the party. If Ahmeti ever leaves, it is likely that there will be a fierce duel between them, given both politicians’ ambitions, which is why the public can speculate that they are not on good terms. Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi is considered to be a shadow successor, although he himself claims to have no such ambitions. Then we have the inevitable Musa Xhaferi, who had to step down after the collapse of the previous government, but he is far from giving up politics.
Analyst Albert Musliu does not think that Ahmeti would step down now, especially when he does not see a prepared strategy in the party for his successor.
“That certainly does not mean that he will forever stay in politics and the party’s leadership. But a great party like DUI must have a plan and vision for the successor to the incumbent president, he has to be prepared for a longer period of time, so he wouldn’t get lost in the leader’s position. In DUI there are several streams and candidates with aspirations to become the party’s president, but, I repeat, there is currently no mood, and I do not see that someone is being prepared for the helm,” Musliu explains.
Ali Ahmeti has been the undisputed leader of the party since DUI was formed in 2002, a party which emerged as a political option of the military NLA. He did not have opponents for the leader’s post at any of the party congresses.