Albania applied the provisions of the 1991 interim constitution, the Law on Major Constitutional Principles, until 1998. Following a constitutional process that concluded with a failed referendum in 1994, Albania continued to apply the provisions of the 1991 interim constitution, the Law on Major Constitutional Principles. The 1998 constitutional process began in earnest when the OSCE-brokered government of national unity, formed in the wake of the collapse of civil authority in early-1997, organized a 21-member parliamentary Constitutional Commission. The Commission, composed of 12 members of the majority Socialist/Social Democratic party coalition and 9 members of former president Berisha’s minority Democratic Party, began work in September 1997 (with formal meetings starting in December), and after obtaining an extension of its original six-month mandate, completed its work on August 4, 1998. The Democratic Party’s representatives boycotted most meetings of the Commission until very late in the process.
The draft was prepared with extensive public input, involving surveys, forums with nongovernmental organizations, public meetings, and expert commentary. Despite lingering low-level violence during the drafting process and a failed coup attempt by ex-President Berisha, special efforts were made to reach population in less-accessible areas. This public input campaign was organized by a special quasi-nongovernmental organization established expressly for this purpose, and was funded by the Albanian and foreign governments, as well as several international organizations. Two months after the initial draft was completed, the Commission held additional hearings and regional debates throughout the country, and amended nearly a quarter of the draft text’s articles based on public suggestions.
Ratification steps included passage by the the 155-member legislature (coded here as the ultimate authority), on October 21, 1998, and a successful referendum on November 22, 1998. The legislative vote exceeding the interim constitution’s required 2/3 majority, with 115 in favor and the remaining 40 deputies (mostly from Berisha’s opposition Democratic Party) not present for voting. The referendum was officially reported at 91.1% in favor, with 50.57% turnout. The constitution came into force on November 28, 1998, following a brief delay to wait for the upcoming anniversary of national independence.