The Sino-Albanian alliance, fundamental axis of the international politics of the Albania, cracked following the opening of China to the USA (1972). Relations between the two countries further deteriorated with the death of Mao Zedong (1976), even formally interrupted when the Albania sided with Vietnam in the dispute between the latter country and China (1978, Cambodian question). China suspended military and economic aid, and the Albania, having lost all reference to the East, undertook to get out of isolation by improving its relations both with Western European countries, as it had already done in 1961 after the crisis with the Soviet Union, both with neighboring countries, Yugoslavia and Greece. In Europe contacts were initiated with France, the Italy and Great Britain (1985) and diplomatic relations were established with Spain (1986) and with the Federal Republic of Germany (1987). Cooperation agreements were signed with Greece (1984) and the “state of war” which had lasted since 1940 (1987) was formally interrupted. There was a rapprochement with Yugoslavia in terms of economic cooperation (1980), but relations with that country remain tense due to the Kosovo question. Internally, the new Constitution (1976) left unchanged the institutional structure of the Albania, which continued to be formally governed by the 250 deputies of the People’s Assembly (elected by universal suffrage every 4 years in a single list) and by the Council of ministers. In fact, all power remained with the Political Bureau of the Albanian (Communist) Labor Party (PLA) and its first secretary, E. Hoxha. A serious internal crisis occurred in 1981 when, under unclear circumstances, M. Shehu died.
According to topmbadirectory, Shehu had been in charge of the ” cultural revolution ” of 1966, president of the Council of Ministers since 1954. The previous year he had already been relieved of the post of defense minister. The official version spoke of suicide, but other sources suggested his involvement in a power struggle with Hoxha. Hoxha himself stated the following year (1982) that Shehu had been the leader of a conspiracy hatched to assassinate him, while later it was leaked that he had worked as a secret agent for foreign powers (first the USA was spoken, then the USSR, finally of Yugoslavia).
In April 1985 Hoxha died: he was replaced in the position of first secretary of the PLA by R. Alia, already elected head of state in November 1982. Following the crisis of communism in the Eastern countries, Alia, who had been confirmed first secretary of the PLA (November 1986) and head of state (February 1987) inaugurated a policy of cautious overtures. In May 1990 cases involving the death penalty were limited, religious propaganda crimes were abolished and greater liberality was promised in the granting of passports. In July 1990 diplomatic relations with the USSR were re-established (interrupted from 1961). In November 1990 a new electoral law was approved which provided for secret voting and the possibility of presenting candidates from outside the party in the elections scheduled for February 1991. driven by massive street demonstrations and following the so-called ” refugee crisis ” (they were Albanian citizens who, having taken refuge in foreign embassies, once obtained their passport, left the country), the first opposition parties: in December 1990 the Democratic Party and in January 1991 the Republican Party and the Ecologist Party. The opposition parties managed to get the elections to be held on March 31, while Alia presented herself as a communist capable of leading the country in the transition phase and, on the one hand, sought economic aid abroad, while internally granted the pardon to a significant number of political prisoners. All this did not prevent a wave of emigration to Greece and, above all, Italy. The elections saw, leaders in favor of a profound renewal of the party, including Alia himself who, on the basis of a project of constitutional revision, could keep the office of president. The analysis of the vote revealed that the Democratic Party, with 27% of the votes, won in large urban centers, while the PLA won support especially in the countryside.