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Year of Publication: 2016
Design and print: Albdesign PSP
Author: Alina Wagner
Translated to Albanian by: Adelina Albrahimi
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National Liberation Front
Socialist Movement for Integration
Social Democratic Party
1. About Social Democracy....................................................................8
2. The Foundation of the Social Democratic Party of Albania................9
3. A Social Democratic Party Program..................................................11
4. The Note to the Allies.......................................................................12
5. Kokalari’s Impact on the Albanian Political and Social Culture:
Is Social Democracy still present or possible?....................................13
• The Ten-Point Program of the Nationalist Organization Balli Kombëtar
• Memorandum of the Democratic Union addressed to the Allies
• The Program of the Social Democratic Party
• Excerpt from Kokalari’s trial
When thinking about Social Democracy, Albania is probably on the very
bottom of the list of countries that would come to mind. It is not surprising
since most of the time politicians overshine their political parties, and names
such as Friedrich Ebert, Willy Brandt, Olof Palme and Helmut Schmidt
weigh heavier in the history of politics than the name Musine Kokalari. It is
not because of lesser intellect, or age, or the fact that she was a woman but
rather repressive surroundings that nip new ideas in the bud.
In attempts to found the first Albanian Social Democratic Party (Partia
Social Demokrate) in 1943, she has been arrested three years later for her
political views and sentenced to 30 years imprisonment, of which she served
16. Musine Kokalari remains one of the brightest and most important
writers in her country, the first woman to get published in Albania and an
exemplary symbol of the repressions in the Enver Hoxha regime.
So far little has been published about Kokalari’s political engagement (in the
English language (or any other for that matter), limiting Social Democracy
to a mere Northern and Western European phenomenon. The beginning
of Social democratic ideals were also present in Albania yet democracy
in general has always had a troublesome history of paving its way in the
autocratic environment of the country. In retrospective, it is inevitable that
Musine Kokalari and the initiators around her had to fail, however, based
on a given Social democratic history in Albania, has anything been learned
from this? Is Social Democracy still present or possible in Albania?
In an attempt to broaden the understanding and perception of Social
Democracy, it is crucial to also illuminate ‘failed’ endeavors. This paper
primarily seeks to give an account of Social democratic trends in Albania
with special emphasis on Musine Kokalari and her struggle for pluralism.
And secondly it serves as a reminder, not only of the atrocities in the
Communist regime, but also for the necessity to have an ongoing discourse
about historical and social issues that accumulated over decades.
Given the complexity as well as the depth of the subject, covering the topic
in its entirety is well beyond the scope of this work. For that reason this
paper will not discuss Kokalari’s academic and personal life in the detail it
requires, nor can it offer a thorough understanding of the ideologies and
the history of Social Democracy. Therefore, the focus will remain on the
historical facts (mostly taken from Kokalari’s essays) that led to the forming
of the Party and the Social democratic ‘left-overs’ in present day Albania.
The first section of the paper will provide a short definition of what Social
Democracy is before proceeding with the historical background on the
foundation of the Social Democratic Party of Albania. Based on this
overwiew, the final section ‘’Kokalari’s Impact on the Albanian Political
and Social Culture: Is Social Democracy still present or possible?’’ will
conclude with some thoughts on Social Democracy in present day Albania.
About Social Democracy
With the news reportages on the ‘crisis of Social Democracy in Europe’ or on
the former Democratic Party candidate Bernie Sanders in the US Presidential
Elections, the public is given technical terms and words that it might be
unfamiliar with. Essentially, the term Social Democracy is not unknown but as
media coverage on it increased in the US and Europe, it is a general necessity
to specify what Social Democracy is.
The term ‘’democracy’’ is an essential part, since in the 19
started to categorize themselves as „social democrats“ in order to differentiate
themselves from other socialists who opposed democracy (Cf. Berman 2005:3).
According to the Online Encyclopaedia Britannica Social Democracy is defined
as follows: ‘’Social democracy, [a] political ideology that advocates a peaceful,
evolutionary transition of society from capitalism to socialism using established
political processes. Based on 19th-century socialism and the tenets of Karl
Marx and Friedrich Engels, social democracy shares common ideological
roots with communism but eschews its militancy and totalitarianism. Social
democracy was originally known as revisionism because it represented a change
in basic Marxist doctrine, primarily in the former’s repudiation of the use of
revolution to establish a socialist society.“ Breaking that down into its simplest
and elementary definition, one could describe it as a compromise between
Socialism and Capitalism. In this aspect, as writes a modern scholar, ‘’social
democrats are socialists without the courage of revolutionary conviction or
socialists who have chosen ballots over bullets (Berman 2005:3).’’
The Foundation of the Social Democratic Party of Albania
In 1972 Kokalari finished writing her book Si lindi Partia Social Demokrate
(engl. How the Social Democratic Party was born), a personal account on the
founding of the party and the people involved.
Information regarding the roots of Social Democracy in Albania is very
scarce, limited and so far not widely debated. It comes as no surprise
because historically Albania does not have a lot of experience with it. Unlike
Germany, Albania did not have the experience of a worker’s movement or the
creation of trade unions nor did it benefit from the revolution of 1848/49
that brought forth strong theoretical principles to Europe (Cf. Potthoff and
Miller 2006:5). However, it has not been entirely insular to movements
either. When Kokalari founded the party in 1943, Albania had encountered
several national developments. According to the writer’s memories the
Rilindja period was very much alive when Italian fascists occupied Albania
in 1939. Rilindja Kombëtare, or Albanian National Awakening that lasted
from the 1870s up until the declaration of independence in 1912, resulted in
a strengthened sense of the
Albanian identity (in cultural, political and social aspects). The national
movement came rather late, even for a Balkan nation compared to others in
Alongside nation building that strongly corelates with the intellectual work
of the Frashëri brothers, the October Revolution in Russia has left its marks
on Albania as well: ‘’[…] Communist groups sprang up here and there, though
Furthermore considerably later also came the formation of a Communist
Party (CP). In fact Albania had been the only Balkan country without such a
party in the beginning of the 1920s. A Communist Party had been officially
formed in the Soviet Union by 1928, while it was not until 1941 that a
unified CP was founded in Albania with Enver Hoxha as the Party Secretary.
Musine Kokalari and Enver Hoxha originate from the same family and are
closely- related cousins. Their childhood houses in Gjirokastër are within
five minutes of walking distance from each other. Born in 1917 in Adana
(Turkey) to parents of Gjirokastër origin, Kokalari early showed signs of love
for writing. In 1938 she left for Italy to study literature in Rome where she
graduated in 1941. A year later she joined the antifascist and anticommunist
movement in Rome, later in the Albanian capital Tirana (Zhiti 2012).
Shortly after the formation of the National Liberation Front (LNC)
- a resistance organization that fought against the German occupiers in
Albania - the anticommunist resistance movement Balli Kombëtar (engl.
The National Front) was created, a heterogeneous organization of people
with various political views and a more or less democratic platform that
considered themselves as simple patriots (Kokalari 1972).
To unify the LNC and Balli Kombëtar, Kokalari proposed to join the
National Liberation Front not as individuals but as a democratic group,
or better, as a party. By getting both movements together and forming a
basic democratic union, they could have been able to fight the occupiers
more intensly (Ibid.). The crucial point however is that Social Democracy
was supposed to serve as a ‘middle way’ to attract undecided forces (Ibid.).
Because of disputes with the future wife of Enver Hoxha (Nexhmije
Xhuglini), Kokalari left LNC and tried to re- establish the idea of a Social
Democratic Party with other people.
In 1932 Kokalari encountered the lawyer Skënder Muço, the literature
professor Isuf Luzaj and the linguist Selman Riza who shared many
common values with Kokalari. Muço, as well as the others, were worried
about the direction the war was headed. After the feuds with the dictator’s
future wife, Musine once again proposed the idea of forming a democratic
coalition while relying on the Ten-Point Programme in accordance to Balli
Kombëtar (Appendix 1).
The group then published a brochure announcing their party creation
(Ibid.). This endeavor (maybe as expected), was destined to fail as on one
hand Muço and Luzaj had a power struggle as to who should be in charge
of the group, and on the other, the leaders of Balli Kombëtar were not
really interested in democracy and wanted to continue their course as
before: ‘’The democratic alternative was in a tragic state, as usual, caught
Nonetheless the group managed to publish a newspaper called ‘Zëri i lirisë’
(engl. The Voice of Freedom) that correlated to their party with Musine
Kokalari being the driving force behind it.
A Social Democratic Party Program
Within the newspaper, in February 1944, Musine published the Program of
the Social Democratic Party (Apendix 2). In it the Party demands political
freedom, which ensures the right of every citizen to practice freedom of
speech, freedom of the press and the freedom to vote: ‘’The main reason
1944).’’ Striking is the fact that Kokalari supported the idea of a Balkan
confederation, an idea that emerged in the beginning of the 20
mostly Social Democratic parties in the Balkan peninsula.
Apart from that the Party Program represents far more than a simple
presentation of the party’s objectives. It highlights the four key elements of
• A political system for choosing and replacing the government through
free and fair elections.
• The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life.
• Protection of the human rights of all citizens.
• A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citi-
zens (Cf. Hilla University Lecture 2004).
Despite the fact that they were able to publish six issues of the newspaper,
Kokalari was doubting its success. The people behind the newspaper
(Kokalari, Muço, Luzaj and Riza) never met again. The lawyer Skënder
Muço was executed by German troops in 1944. Within Kokalari’s (and
Hoxha’s for that matter) own family 14 people were persecuted. Two of
her brothers were arrested and then murdered by so-called ‘liberation
soldiers’. One day later Kokalari herself has been captured and interrogated.
In November of the same year she has been released and witnessed the
liberation of Albania.
According to Kokalari that event marked the end of the Rilindja period
‘’and democratic endeavours by humane individuals who wanted to defend the
Communists began and people who dared to voice their wish for political
pluralism soon faced prison or even death.
The Note to the Allies
In the aftermath of the war, in November 1945 the British, American,
French, Yugoslav and Soviet missions were still active in Albania. The
summer of 1945 brought forth a new Albanian constitution that was simply
a copy of the Yugoslav one (Cf. Vickers 2014:155). As the new government
sought recognition, the Westeners demanded democratic elections. Around
that time Musine more or less withdrew from political engagement and was
working in her bookshop in Tirana.
There were talks about elections taking place on 2 December 1945. In the
same year Shaban Balla, a figure active in the resistance, visited Musine
Kokalari a few times and explained that they ought to do something and
support the British. Initially Kokalari was not interested since she had been
close to reimprisonment and did not want to get involved in other people’s
activities, especially not underground (Cf. Kokalari 1972). Nonetheless she
agreed to ask for moral support from the Allies in form of a writing in
order to postpone elections so that other parties could take part in them,
initiating a pluralist government: ‘’We had little hope, yet something had to be
In a meeting held in November 1945 Musine formed a Note (Appendix
3) explaining the current situation in Albania and proposing to postpone
elections so that various political groups could take part in them. Among
the people who signed the Note were four monarchists (people who
supported the former Albanian King Zog), four people from the
resistance, a friend of Kokalari with Social democratic orientation and
Musine herself. Balla then submitted copies of the Note to the Americans
and to the British (Ibid.).
The Allies however, did not intervene with the government and kept silent
on the matter which logically resulted in their inevitable: One by one the
signees were arrested and accused of overthrowing the government. The
consequences for all these people are easily imaginable: Some were shot
(among them Shaban Balla), most of them imprisoned. In court, defending
her positions until the very end (although her fate was already sealed),
Musine accepted the charges according to the government (Appendix 4).
Kokalari was then sentenced to 30 years of prison, later reduced to 20 of
which she served 16 (Zhiti 2012).
Terminally sick with breast cancer in her later years, Kokalari was denied
treatment at the local hospital. She died in complete isolation in 1983.
Regardless of the persecution she faced during her lifetime, her funeral
couldn’t have been more demoting. The coffin was made out of left-overs
that were collected from a construction ground and a security officer from
the region has been advised to tie the dead body’s hands (Ibid.).
Kokalari’s Impact on the Albanian Political and Social Culture: Is
Social Democracy still present or possible?
Today’s Albania has little to do with (Social) Democracy, and this for several
reasons. It is inarguable that Musine Kokalari has an impact on Albanian
history. However she is mostly remembered as a victim of the Communist
regime and a gifted storyteller. To the wider public the formation of a
Social Democratic Party in the 1940s remains more or less unknown. Did
Kokalari’s endeavors leave marks in the Social and Political life in Modern
being a ‘Socialist’ or being a ‘Social Democrat’. Even before we start
speaking of different types of democracy, democracy itself is something that
needs to be discussed. These nuances of political self-determination, which
are now so natural in Greater Europe, are a luxury that cannot be found
in Albania. When researching for this paper and a definition of Social
Democracy, sources were very limited. In fact there is only one definition
in the Albanian language, provided by the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation,
which is closely associated with the Social Democratic Party of Germany.
An ordinary Albanian cannot even consult a Wikipedia article in the
Albanian language about Social Democracy, even though two parties exist
in Albania which pursue a social democratic orientation.
In 1991 Skënder Gjinushi, a former member of the Party of Labour of
Albania, founded the Social Democratic Party of Albania (alb. PSD) that
held seats in the Albanian Parliament between 1992 – 1996 and then again
from 1997 – 2009 (Cf. Nohlen and Stöver 2010:140-142). Indeed, the
party bears the same name as Kokalari’s but it also closely cooperated with
the Socialist Party of Albania (‘reformed Socialists’ as they call themselves)
with whom they formed coalitions throughout their Parliament activity. To
date the PSD remained quite negligible in Albanian politics.
Growing prominence and significance gained only the Socialist Movement
for Integration (alb. LSI), a party that moderately represents the ‘third
way’ between the two major parties (Socialist Party/ Democratic Party) in
Albania. The LSI is a result of an inter-party dispute between the LSI leader
Ilir Meta and the then leader of the Socialist Party Fatos Nano. Meta’s
party emphasizes its non-ideological nature although the theoretical basis is
inclined towards the centre-left (as the party supports the European model
of social welfare for instance) (Cf. Barbullushi 2014:88-89).
In Albania’s current political landscape various factors impede an emergence
of real (Social) democratic structures. Discussing the ‘left-overs’ of Social
Democracy on Albania’s political stage, it is necessary to consider the
following: In order to have ‘left-overs’, there should have been a ‘meal’ in
the first place.
Social democratic structures as we know them from Greater Europe
can be traced back to several developments. In the 18
Europe underwent a variety of social, cultural, political and technological
progresses that shaped its states and their national characteristics. The
Age of Enlightenment that reoriented Western philosophy, politics and
science in terms of questioning authorities and the turn to rationalism, is
a predecessor of the 20
of Philosophy 2010). Of equal importance, or even greater one, was the
Industrial Revolution which allowed the simple farmer to loosen the ties
to his land and cattle and seek working opportunities elsewhere in the
country. The formation of trade unions is a major aspect that contributed
to the creation of the Social democratic ideology. Resulting in social and
economic change on the Continent, the period of Industrialisation brought
forth socio-critical theorists, above all its most radical: Karl Marx. In