Erosion of institutions…or democracy unchecked

12 Maj, 20240

The legitimacy of institutions depends on their credibility, and throughout the developed world popular trust in institutions has declined significantly, in some cases as a result of direct political interference in their work. This would be an important debate, if we had in Albania after the 90s also institutions with an normal tradition in the implementation of the law and only the law.

Like any democratic country with a high level of institutional development, any law enforcement agency in Albania would be desirable to be guided by a strong and healthy work culture in order to act effectively.

But who would be a strong institution format and resistant to the erosion of governance?

A culture of accountability in law enforcement is the main indicator and of special importance for a strong institutional format with “depreciation” within the allowed limits. Accountability is implemented in an environment with transparency for achievements and non-achievements, as well as accountability at the level required by the institution’s legal parameters.
But accountability and responsibility are not taken for granted, as they must be monitored nonstop, according to the model of governance checks and balances. This monitoring mechanism is the signaling system and is independent of government policy and leadership, as it is the part that sees and engages the whole society to identify and distinguish the level of institutional erosion. 

Its dysfunction creates grounds for abuse by government propaganda or captured parts of society to manipulate the indicators that present the performance of duties by the institutions as well as the level of integrity and ethical norms of the institutions’ employees.

By now everyone has read, heard and seen reports, analysis and facts about the dysfunctional operation that prevents accountability and transparency for all and valuable to understand the erosion of institutions and the norms of the leaders and employees they lead. To be convinced, the evidence and sleep from the reports from the KLSH, the special anti-corruption prosecutor’s office and from the reports of the investigative media are enough.

What happens to the institutions when the situation is not being resolved for many years?

The accountability of institutions based on the mechanisms above ensures that they can work together effectively. Society can trust their leaders that they are making ethical decisions and in favor of achieving objectives that are ultimately in the public interest of higher welfare, more affordable living costs, and an increase in the country’s good name. maintaining and strengthening communities within the country. But the only main condition is that they know that their leaders will put the needs of the institution and the public before personal interests, coming to the leadership as a result of their work and qualities and not by the appointment of the political and chronic leadership.

The public has been hoping for years in the institutions, waiting for high standards. But accountability in law enforcement is not a key component of effective constitutional efforts and institutional government openness to the community. Increasingly larger segments of the public and their representatives have lost faith in the exercise of bureaucratic functions, denouncing the political capture of more state institutions.

The legitimacy of the media, as the main communication tool with the public, has decreased dramatically. Much of the public now believes that reporting is usually “politicized”, feeding on news and partially true information.

The current political format has also eroded confidence in the electoral process fueling anxiety that the country’s democracy is “rigged”. The rise of “fake news,” fears that the outcome of the vote could be manipulated by candidates, precinct fraud, and rules designed to make voting more difficult have all discredited the voting process. The lowest turnout in elections in all these years demonstrates growing public apathy. We are also seeing a widespread erosion of public institutions dominated by the rise of populism with dramatic impact on policymaking.
Special interest groups for entire economic segments remain very powerful.

Those deprived of the right to benefit from material goods are always in very weak positions and chronic problems in reacting to bring about changes in policies. Institutional erosion is extremely endangering the democratic structural stability, and this is keeping social life in a state of suspension and instability.

Today’s disaffected middle class would have a more direct path to power. But the lack of a strong leadership in ideas and united towards an anti-establishment cause has not been able to support this potent force in the country. The inflammatory outbursts and refusals to cooperate with each other indicate a weak, materialistically addicted middle class that has replaced the venerable democratic system we envisioned three decades ago. 

So, in this age of democracy unchecked by institutions, what does it really mean for governance and politics to be successful institutions?

The first, government must regain public trust by attracting real public servants instead of power-hungry demagogues, lest it lose more validity in the watchful eye of the public.
Politics, secondly assisted by civil society, must support popular sovereignty, where elected officials must be accountable to the people. This attitude also applies to the new opposition, which, by distancing itself from current politics, thinks that it will be at an advantage in future politics. The toxic politics of divorces and political comebacks without changing parts of the institutional system have been harmful as they have killed hope and it seems that there is still no approach by new aspirants in politics that differentiates the past from the present.

The new anti-establishment politics must distinguish between the rotten part of active politics in the political market and identify itself as part of the causes that require union and not exclusion.

Important for anyone who distances himself from politics in power is only the approach of institutional loyalty. This does not mean overthrowing a political class to create an opportunity for a new class or to act independently of the executive branch.
Law enforcement agencies don’t have to create a culture from scratch. The problem is that institutions are guided by implicit values that are often at odds with explicit values. This breeds confusion, mistrust and cynicism rather than clarity, commitment and high morals.

Values drive behavior.

People make decisions based on their deepest core values. And employees make decisions at work based on what they perceive their institution values. Culture cannot be dictated, it must be lived. And changing work culture works best when everyone is involved.

But beware! Creating a healthy culture requires transparency and open communication.

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