Edi Rama (Albanian pronunciation: [ɛdi ɾama]; born 4 July 1964) is an Albanian politician, diplomat, artist, writer and former basketball player, who has been the Prime Minister of Albania since 2013. He is also the first serving Mayor to become Prime Minister. Rama is since 2005 a member and leader of the Socialist Party. Before his election as Prime Minister, Rama held a number of governmental and diplomatic positions. Namely, he previously served as the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports from 1998 to 2000. Afterwards he became the Mayor of Tirana for at least three-consecutive-terms from 2000 to 2011.
33rd Prime Minister of Albania
15 September 2013
|Preceded by||Sali Berisha|
|2nd Chairman of the Socialist Party|
10 October 2005
|Preceded by||Fatos Nano|
|40th Mayor of Tirana|
11 October 2000 – 25 July 2011
|Preceded by||Albert Brojka|
|Succeeded by||Lulzim Basha|
|Minister of Cultural Affairs|
4 July 1964 |
|Political party||Socialist Party|
|Spouse(s)||Matilda Makoçi (1986–1991)
Delina Fico (1991–1997)
Linda Basha Xhillari (2010–present)
|Children||3 (1 stepchild)|
|Alma mater||University of Arts|
Rama was born and raised in Tirana. After graduating from Academy of Arts in 1982, he spent four years in France in order to establish an artistic carrer. Subsequently returning to Albania in 1998, due to the burial of his father Kristaq Rama, he officially began his political career. Thereafter former Prime Minister, Fatos Nano appointed him as the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports. In 2000, Rama had announced his intention to run for the mayorship of Tirana. The result of the mayoral elections was a victory for him, receiving almost 57% of the total votes. During his first-term, Rama has been elected as the World Mayor 2004. In 2013, Rama was invited to form the 33th Albanian Cabinet and become Prime Minister of Albania following the 2013 elections, where Rama's Socialist Party won a majority of the seats in the Cabinet.
One of Rama's consistent priorities has been to strengthen the economy and democratize the state institutions. He plays a central role in the negotiation of the Berlin Process. During his tenure, Rama's Government implemented numerous reforms, including the restructure and modernization to the judiciary and law enforcement of Albania, a thorough reformation of the public administration, social welfare and pension system. However, under his term the government has placed gender equality at the center of its agenda. Today, almost 50% of the ministers are female, making it the largest number of women serving in the country's history.
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Edi Rama was born on 4 July 1964 in Tirana, Albania to Kristaq Rama, a well-known sculptor and native of Durrës, and Aneta Rama (née Koleka), a graduate of medicine from Vuno, Vlorë. His father, Kristaq Rama is one of the most esteemed sculptors of his time, author of several monuments such as the Monumenti i Pavaresise, the monument of Shote Galica in Kukës, and the statue of Mother Albania located in the National Martyrs Cemetery in Tirana.
Rama started painting early in his childhood. During his teenager years, his talent was noticed by two of the leading Albanian painters of the time, Edi Hila and Danish Juniku. Both encouraged Rama to develop his painter’s skills in a professional way. However in 1982, Rama decided to pursue a professional painting career, by enrolling in the Faculty of Fine Arts.
As a teenager, Rama was involved in sports as a professional basketball player for Dinamo Tirana. He was also part of the Albania national basketball team. In the dying hours of the communist regime, Rama, a young professor at the Academy of Arts, organized several open student meetings, during which the regime was publicly denounced. Those meetings acted as a ferment of the student movement which eventually brought down the regime. Essays from those meetings were collected in the book Refleksione, which Rama published together with publicist Ardian Klosi.
Following the collapse of communism in Albania, he became involved with the first democratic movements. He entered the student movement but soon left after a quarrel over ideological matters with Sali Berisha. In 1994, Rama decided to leave for France, with the intention of establishing an artist life there. In France, his painting career took off. Together with his former student and later close friends, Anri Sala, Rama took part in many exhibitions.
In January 1997, during one of his trips back to Albania, Rama was physically assaulted. It was widely alleged that the beatings were done by members of the Secret Services SHISH to punish Rama for his outspoken criticism of the Berisha government.
In 1998, while in Albania for the funeral of his father, Rama received a call from the then-Prime Minister of Albania Fatos Nano, asking him to serve as the new Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports. Rama decided to accept the offer, thus being involved in politics for the first time.
As a Minister, Rama immediately became known for his extravagance in a variety of ways, including his unique colorful dressing style. His innovative cultural projects, coupled with his strange clothing and rebellious political style, helped Rama to reach an unprecedented level of support among the young people, which played latter a critical part in his election as Mayor of Tirana.
In October 2000, Rama entered and won the race for the Mayorship as an Independent candidate, supported by the Socialist Party against writer Besnik Mustafaj. After taking office, he undertook a radical campaign to return many portions of Tirana's center and Lana River into their original forms by demolishing hundreds of illegal constructions. However, Rama earned international recognition by repainting the facades of many soviet style, depleted buildings in the city. The repainting gave the city a unique style, turning it suddenly in a touristic attraction. This repainting program earned Rama the prize of World Best Mayor in 2004. The election committee, argued that “Edi Rama is the man who changed a whole city. Now there is a new Tirana, colored, happy, with a new and improved infrastructure and cultural life”.
As mayor he compiled the Tirana City Master Plan  including the Skanderbeg Square project. He planted thousands of new trees, making Tirana a much more environment-friendly city. Rama also expanded the existing roads and paved new ones, improving mobility. According to a UNDP report, Rama played a critical role in the modernization of the local government, empowering municipalities and giving them, for the first time real power to impact the life of their communities.
His successful policies earned Rama two more consecutive mandates as a Mayor of Tirana, defeating lawyer Spartak Ngjela in 2003 and Democratic Party of Albania candidate Sokol Olldashi in the 2007 Municipality elections. In the 2007 Municipality elections, the counting process lasted 6 days and was marked by repeated stalls, prompting the intervention of most prominent foreign Ambassadors accredited to the country. On 14 May 2011, when the marathon counting process draw to a close, Edi Rama was declared winner  with a slight margin. However, the Democratic Party candidate, Lulzim Basha was awarded victory on a widely criticized court ruling, after hundreds of non-valid votes casted in wrong ballots were accounted  Rama said of his time as Mayor of Tirana: "It's the most exciting job in the World, because I get to invent and to fight for good cause’s everyday. Being the mayor of Tirana is the highest form of conceptual art. It's art in a pure state"."
In October 2005, Rama became the leader of the Socialist Party following the resignation of Fatos Nano. Capitalizing on Rama’s popularity as a mayor, the Socialist Party of Albania regained appeal. Rama reshaped the party’s tarnished image, by encouraging many young intellectuals, entrepreneurs and artists to join. During his tenure, Rama was inspired by the progressive policies of Tony Blair’s “New Labour” and Anthony Giddens “Third Way”, calling for a “third direction between the traditional right and left”.
The 2009 elections were flawed and have been called as such by the socialist opposition, who have asked for a recount of the ballots. Berisha refused any recount of the votes, on the grounds that the Albanian Constitution does not foresee such procedure. For that reason he called the opposition to the parliament to change the constitution, but the Socialist Party refused. The political crisis between government and opposition worsened over time, with the Socialists abandoning parliamentary debates for months and staging hunger strikes to ask for internal and international support. The EU attempted a conciliation, which failed. The ongoing political crisis was one of the reasons for the EU's refusal to grant Albania official candidate status in late 2010.
On 21 January 2011, clashes broke out between police and protesters in an anti-government rally in front of the Government building in Tirana. Four people were shot dead from government special forces. The EU issued a statement to Albanian politicians, warning both sides to refrain from violence.
During the 2013 parliamentary elections, the Socialist Party of Edi Rama lead the coalition of left parties which won a landslide victory against the conservative coalition of Sali Berisha from the Democratic Party of Albania. Rama's platform, nicknamed "Renaissance" was based on four pillars, European integration, Economic revitalization, Restoration of the public order and democratization of the state institutions.
Since 15 September 2013, Rama is serving as the 33rd Prime Minister of Albania. During the electoral campaign, Rama stated that the return of public order was his number one priority. In 2013, the Albanian Police was able to cover actively only 55% of the territory. The Government invested heavily in modernizing, training, and improving financial benefits of the police force. The police earned international acclaim when in 2014 undertook a highly successful operation on Lazarat, a remote village in the south of the country, known for the production of narcotics.
Rama has been committed to restructure the judicial system in Albania, which was one of the most corrupted and ineffective judicial systems in Europe at that time. In 2016, the Parliament approved the “vetting law”. Based on this law, any judge or prosecutor which cannot explain his source of wealth or former dubious verdicts will be disqualified for life. In November 2016, the European Union stated that a successful implementation of vetting law remains the sole criteria to fulfill before opening accession talks.
Another key reform, was the reform in the energy sector, left in the brink of bankruptcy from a previous failed privatization effort. His government successfully enforced the payment of billions of unpaid bills and heavily invested in the modernization of the obsolete power distribution network. Economic policies have also been successful. The economic growth, from 0,5% in 2013, accelerated to 3,5% in 2016 and is expected to exceed 4% during 2017. Unemployment has been reduced steadily, thanks to 183.000 new jobs  created in the last three years. Furthermore, with 14.7% (2016) Albania has the 4th lowest unemployment rate in the Balkans.
Other important reforms include the administrative reform, the social welfare and pension system reform, and the reform in higher education. Internationally, Rama is pursuing a historical reconciliation policy between Albanians and Serbs and his visit in Belgrade, in 2014 was the first visit of an Albanian Prime Minister in Serbia in over 70 years. In a second visit, during the Economic Forum of Nis, Rama compared the Albanian and Serbian reconciliation process with the historical reconciliation between the French and Germans after the second World War. Rama is also a key supporter of the Berlin Process, an intergovernmental platform of cooperation between the European Union and Western Balkans countries.
The 1st Cabinet of Rama was sworn in by President Bujar Nishani on 15 September 2013, becoming the 8th Cabinet of the Albanian Republic, since the collapse of communism in Albania. The Cabinet is composed of 21 members, with fifteen coming from the Socialist Party, four from the Socialist Movement for Integration and one from the Democratic Party. The Cabinet is also the first in which the number of female ministers is equal to the number of male ministers, excluding the Prime Minister.
Rama has had an intensive agenda of high level meetings. Since 2013, Rama has frequently met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, American President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, Pope Francis and many others.
In several occasions, Rama has stated that the European Union needs to accelerate the integration process of the Western Balkans, considering it the only way to subdue the dangerous fractions in the region, preventing a possible eruption of violence, like the one that hammered the region in the nineties. Rama has also denounced as destabilizing the rising Russian influence in the region.
Artist and WriterEdit
Rama is an active painter and has had several personal painting exhibitions.
Personal exhibitions include such as Janos Gallery in New York City (1993); Place de Médiathèque in France (1995); Palais Jalta in Frankfurt (1997); Acud in Berlin (1993); São Paulo in Brazil (1994); Israel (1995); National Art Gallery in Tirana, Albania (1992); and Gallery XXI in Albania (1999). In 2014 and 2017 Rama held an exhibit in the prestigious Venice Biennial. In 2016, a collection of his works were exposed in the prestigious Marion Goodman Gallery in New York City.
Rama is also an active writer. In 1992, while a professor at the Academy of Arts of Albania, Rama published a book with various notes together with publicist Ardian Klosi entitled “Refleksione” (Reflections). In 2009, Rama published a collection of personal notes and paintings in a book entitled Edi Rama. In November 2011, Rama published a reflection book on his years as mayor of Tirana entitled Kurban.
Since 2010, Rama has been married to Lindita "Linda" Rama (née Basha, formerly Xhillari), an economist and civil society activist. Mrs. Rama, is a graduate of the University of Tirana and holds a Master of Arts in Economy and is a Doctor of Sciences in Economy. Until 1998 she has worked in high levels of public administration including the Head of the National Privatization Agency. She has a long academic experience as a lecturer in International Finance at the University of Tirana and a lecturer of Public Policies in the European University of Tirana. She is the author of several scientific researches and publications in her field. Together they have a son, Zaho, born in 2014.
Edi Rama was previously married to actress Matilda Makoçi. The couple divorced in 1991. Rama has a son, Gregor, from his first marriage.
In 2003, Rama appeared before the Albanian Parliament in an inquiry commission on abuse of funds in the Municipality of Tirana. During the session, he was seen speaking using a loudspeaker. The commission was eventually closed and Rama acquitted.
During his time as a mayor, in several attempts to widen roads and improve infrastructure, Rama authorized the bulldozing of private properties. In one occasion, Rama himself cut an electric wooden pole with an ax before the cameras, because a conflict with the central government was blocking a road extension. He has been accused of corruption and mismanagement of funds by the opposition, including corruption in the granting of building permits.
Rama has also been criticized by a group of former SP politicians and some journalists for leading the party with authoritarian methods. During the 2007 municipal campaign, his rivals published some photos of Rama in intimate poses on a nudist beach in southern France.
Due to his of his flamboyance and rebellious ways Rama has often been accused of arrogance and elitism, especially at the start of his political career. In more than one occasion political opponents attacked him about his personal and family life, and even raised doubts about his sexual orientation.
While mayor of Tirana, in 2003, Rama was a "visiting professor" as Robert C. Wood Visiting Professorship of Public and Urban Affairs at the University of Massachusetts Boston (basically a speaking and greeting format).
In December 2004, Rama was named the World Mayor 2004, in an international competition that took place over one year, based on direct voting by Internet, organized by the non-commercial organization CITYMAYORS, located in London.
In 2017, Rama received the highest French Honour, the order of the “Commander to the Legion of Honour”
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Edi Rama.|
.al, his official personal website
- Official Website of the Albanian Council of Ministers
- Archived webpage of the Municipality of Tirana
- The Albanian Renaissance Documentary
|Mayor of Tirana
|Prime Minister of Albania
|Party political offices|
|Chairman of the Socialist Party