Enver Hoxha ruled the country with an iron hand until his death on 11 April 1985, leaving his
successors the most totalitarian and economically ruined state of the entire Eastern bloc. He
was succeeded by Ramiz Alia, considered the leader of the liberal faction of the Albanian
Labour Party (as the Communist Party of Albania had been called since September 1948).
Despite his reformist disposition, however, he remained faithful to the communist ideals,
which meant that he was unable to get the country out of economic collapse. However, it
softened the repressive measures taken against Albanians, especially the programme of
state atheism, and established certain contacts with the West, such as Germany, Greece and
Italy. It still did not allow for any systemic reforms, as demonstrated by the Albanian press's
criticism of perestroika in the Soviet Union and its assurances that a mono-party way of
exercising power did not exclude democracy at all.