TIMELINE-Albanian politics since the fall of communism

May 9 (Reuters) - Albania counted votes on Monday from Sunday’s mayoral elections seen as a test of the Balkan country’s readiness for European Union candidate status.

A 525-strong international election observation team was due to issue its assessment on Tuesday after monitoring polling.

Democracy is just 20 years old in Albania, which is still suffering post-Communist growing pains. Here is a timeline of Albania since the 1985 death of Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha:

December 1990 - After popular protests overturn communism in East Germany and other former Soviet satellite states, students demonstrate in Tirana calling for an end to dictatorship.

March-December 1991 - Ramiz Alia’s communists win a decisive majority in parliamentary elections, but strikes and demonstrations force the cabinet to resign within weeks.

-- The Communist Party renounces its past and changes its name to the Socialist Party in June. Party headed by Fatos Nano.

March 1992 - With overt U.S. backing, the opposition Democratic Party wins a landslide victory and Sali Berisha becomes Albania’s first elected non-communist president.

1993 - Alia and Nano are imprisoned on corruption charges.

May-June 1996 - Berisha’s Democrats claim victory in an election condemned as rigged by the Socialists.

January-May 1997 - Pyramid schemes collapse, wiping out more than $1 billion of people’s savings. Rioting erupts and thousands die. International forces arrive to restore order.

June-July 1997 - The Socialists win elections and Nano, released from jail and pardoned, returns as prime minister.

September - Azem Hajdari, a close Berisha aide, is assassinated. Berisha blames the Socialists and his supporters take to the streets. Nano resigns and is replaced by fellow Socialist Pandeli Majko.

October 1999 - Majko quits after losing the party leadership to Nano and is replaced by Ilir Meta. Meta embarks on ambitious reforms of the economy, public sector and judicial system.

July 2001 - Meta scrapes a win in a general election.

January 2002 - Meta loses a power struggle with Nano and resigns. Majko becomes prime minister.

July 2002 - Parliament elects former Defence Minister Alfred Moisiu as a consensus presidential candidate. Majko resigns and Nano is appointed prime minister for the third time.

January 2003 - The European Union launches formal negotiations with Tirana for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement, the first step to eventual EU membership.

August 2004 - Former premier Meta forms Socialist Integration Movement, seen by analysts as the first credible party to challenge the Democrat-Socialist duopoly.

April 2005 - Moisiu calls elections for July 3; the Democratic Party government of Sali Berisha takes power in Sptember ending eight years in opposition. June 2006 - Albania signs an agreement taking a first step towards membership of the European Union. June 2007 - President George W. Bush becomes the first U.S. leader to visit Albania.

July 2007 - Parliament elects the ruling Democrat’s vice chairman, Bamir Topi, president, avoiding snap polls that would have delayed reforms needed for membership of the EU and NATO.

April 2009 - NATO allies admit Albania at a summit.

April 2009 - Albania applies for candidate status to the European Union. The 27-member bloc has yet to reply.

June 2009 - Parliamentary elections narrowly give Berisha a second four-year term.

November 2009 - Thousands of Socialist Party supporters launch a new protest to demand the government either recount the vote in the June election or hold another.

February 2010 - The Socialist Party ends a six-month boycott of the parliament.

January 2011 - Deputy Prime Minister Meta resigns on Jan. 14, saying he wants to fight allegations of corruption.

-- Four protesters are killed on Jan. 21 during a rally to demand the government resign over corruption allegations.

May 2011 - Mayoral elections held. (Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)