Background: Between 1990 and 1992 Albania ended 46 years of xenophobic Communist rule and established a multiparty democracy. The transition has proven difficult as successive governments have tried to deal with high unemployment, widespread corruption, a dilapidated infrastructure, powerful organized crime networks with links to government officials, and disruptive political opponents. Albania has made incremental progress in its democratic development since first holding multiiparty elections in 1991, but deficiencies remain - particularly in regard to the rule of law. Despite some lingering problems, international observers have judged elections to be largely free and fair since the restoration of political stability following the collapse of pyramid schemes in 1997. In the 2005 general elections, the Democratic Party and its allies won a decisive victory on pledges of reducing crime and corruption, promoting economic growth, and decreasing the size of government. Although Albania's economy continues to grow, the country is still one of the poorest in Europe, hampered by a large informal economy, large public debt, and an inadequate energy and tranportation infrastructure. Albania has played a largely helpful role in managing inter-ethnic tensions in southeastern Europe, and is continuing to work toward joining NATO and the EU.