Thousands of ruling party supporters gathered in Mother Theresa Square in Tirana on Monday, waving the party’s flag and chanting Berisha’s name after he walked onto the stage.
“The June 23 parliamentary elections present a big choice for Albanian citizens,” Berisha told his cheering supporters.
“Our alternative has at heart your freedom, wealth and free enterprise, while the opposition wants to raise taxes and make Albania a country that works for its government,” he said.
After two decades in politics, divided between the president’s and premier’s offices, Berisha is already Albania’s longest-serving leader since the collapse of the Communist regime.
The rally was also greeted by the mayor of Tirana, Lulzim Basha, who lashed out against opposition leader Edi Rama, branding him an enemy of Albania.
“What can be said of someone that blocks his country’s progress?” Basha asked, referring to Rama. “This man cannot be a friend of Tirana or a friend of Albania,” he said.
The parliamentary elections are seen as litmus test for Tirana’s political elite to advance the country’s battered EU integration goals.
Albania has a long history of contested polls that do not meet international standards. The last general elections in 2009 sparked a political crisis between the ruling Democrats and opposition Socialists which is still reverberating.