The modernization of the small Balkan country’s capital—once a dozy, village-like place—has moved into overdrive. Today, Tirana’s hip new market area will be inaugurated, replacing an old and decrepit one.
It is part of a major redevelopment plan overseen by the city’s young mayor, Erion Veliaj. The central Skanderbeg Square is being turned into a huge pedestrianized zone, which workmen are rushing to finish by May. A new boulevard should be ready in June, just in time for general elections.
Mr Veliaj’s ruling Socialists hope the project will help persuade voters to give them a second term. But the opposition is threatening to boycott the vote, complaining that the Socialists are in league with the mafia.
It is also boycotting parliament, thereby stalling crucial judicial reforms. In Albania it is a clash of new and old: Tirana is becoming a cool European city, but the country’s politics remain as dirty and traditional as ever.