Edi Rama (born 1964) is the mayor of Tirana, the capital of Albania, since October, 2000. He has tried many radical ideas to improve the city and is a person who is not afraid to speak his mind which has led to some heated debates with other city officials and citizens.
Rama was active during the anti-Communist revolution, while being a professor at the Academy of Arts of Tirana which was a political centre. Rama got disappointed in the Democrat Party because of its corruptedness. He criticized Sali Berisha's regime a lot abroad during his career as an internationally recognized visual artist.
In 1997, security agents beat Rama almost dead. After long recovery he emigrated to Paris. When he went to his father's funeral in 1998, Fatos Nano called him into his government to be the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports. His first step was opening cinemas to show Hollywood movies in order to overcome people's mental isolation from the rest of the world.
In 2000, Rama ran into the mayoralty of Tirana as an independent candidate supported by the Socialist Party. He gathered 57% of the votes. Shortly after his election, Edi Rama's house came under fire from an unknown gunman on November 9, 2000. He escaped the assassination attempt unscathed.
The most noted impact of Rama has been the many improvements to the city since he took over. Although he has been accused of corruption and funds mismanagement, he is mostly liked by the citizens for his bold style and the cleaning up of the city. Rama's Return to Identity project rid the city of many illegally constructed buildings and kiosks on municipal lands such as local parks and the banks of the Lana. His Clean and Green project in 2000 resulted in the production of 96,700 square metres of green land and parks in the city and the planting of nearly 1,800 trees. He also ordered the painting of many old buildings in what has come to be known as Edi Rama colours (very bright yellow, green, violet). The primary aim of these measures was to make Albania more appealing to foreigners. He also is trying to change people's consciousness in the direction of shared responsibility for their city, and to enhance people's trust to the government. His critics charge that he focussing too much attention on cosmetic changes without fixing any of the major problems such as shortages of drinking water and electricity.
The former artist had this to say about his work as a mayor: "[The] most exciting job in the world, because I get to invent everyday and to fight for good causes everyday. Being the mayor of Tirana is the highest form of conceptual art. Itís art in a pure state."
Rama also is the head of the Albanian Association of Mayors. He no longer is active as an artist but when asked he maintains that politics is a kind of conceptual art.