Public open space in the 1990s before Edi Rama became Mayor of Tirana



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Edi Rama replies to questions
from an international audience

City Mayors invited readers from Albania and other countries to put questions to Tirana Mayor Edi Rama, winner of the 2004 World Mayor award. From the many hundreds of questions received, we forwarded some 30 to the Mayor. Below, he replies in detail, as well as with candour and thoughtfulness.

Questions & Answers
From Edi, Tirana, Albania
Question:
I personally think that the time has definitely come for you to make your contribution in another leading post in the government... But my question, and I believe the question of many Albanians eager for a better future, is: "Do you think that you can contribute in changing and reshaping Albanian politics and governance if elected prime minister?"

Edi Rama replies
When I stepped into the Tirana Municipality in October 2000, and saw ‘up close’ the problems that had been festering in the institution, and that would have to be fixed in order to revitalize a capital ruined by a gloomy past and a chaotic transition, I said I would need at least nine years to do the job. Three years went by and, in October 2003, the citizens gave me another full mandate, which I shall honour to the end.


From David, Voskopoje, Korce, Albania
Question:
Mr. Rama, can you conceive of one day being the Prime Minister of Albania? I believe that if the people were given the opportunity, the majority of them would vote for you. If yes, when will you decide? Because I think your time has come, and if you were elected, many Albanians who are now living, working or studying abroad would go back to Albania to contribute to the development of our country.

Edi Rama replies
If it were true that I could play a role in bringing home numerous Albanians either educated, or empowered with a valuable work record, in richer economies and currently seeking a better future outside Albania because their mother country is not yet capable of offering them a dignified life and attractive future, then I would surely not hesitate. While, on the one hand, I believe that Albania has an urgent need for qualified expertise, especially the expertise offered by the long-neglected tens of thousands of students graduating from Western universities who turn their backs on our labour market, I sincerely think this cannot be a one-man show, but must be a national policy issue embraced by all the parties. Unfortunately, we cannot find a single line about this in the parties' programmes, and no institution in our state can tell us how many people have left Albania. 


From Armando, Tirana, Albania
Question:
During your two terms as mayor, you changed Tirana into a European city. If you were the next prime minister, would you change Albania into a truly European country?

Edi Rama replies
A truly European Albania cannot be the result of the work of one man or even one party, but can be the result of the civic consciousness we all should be working to create. It is true that weaker institutions and a lower level of civic consciousness in a country help lend a greater weight, for better or worse, to the individual than circumstances in countries where the institutions are powerful and the community is active. But when we speak of a truly European country, we mean precisely powerful institutions and an active community.


From Linda, Tirana, Albania
Question:
There are vast numbers of educated, well-trained and professional young people from Tirana (and other cities of Albania) who, in their quest for professional and personal growth, to gain experience and do worthwhile jobs in accordance with their education and training, have ended up in other countries. Many of them would like to return to Albania, and if they do, they will bring with them much-needed expertise in various areas, thus becoming a group of people that will really contribute to the further development of the country. The same people, however, are reluctant to take that step because they are not affiliated with any of the big political parties - and in Albania, it is very difficult to work in state institutions and get a good job unless one is so affiliated (and one even risks losing that job if affiliated with the wrong party). Do you recognize the potential this group of young people has, and can bring to Albania? If so (and I am sure you do), what will you do to create a friendly political parties-free environment for this young experienced generation to work in Tirana? Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to address questions to our mayor, and please let him know that I really appreciate what he has done for Tirana.

Edi Rama replies
I not only recognize the potential of this group, but I believe the Tirana Municipality owes its success to the fact that it employs people with the youngest average age in the administration and with zero party sensibility. I assure you I do not know how the directors and heads of sectors vote (apart from the Tirana mayor’s election, because I am sure they wouldn’t vote for anyone but me). Joking aside, securing well-qualified human resources with undeclared party affiliations continues to be our main concern, and has been since our first day of work. We were the first institution to enter into a relationship with the universities and to keep in touch with 40 of the best students, who are allowed to closely watch what we do, who talk with us and, even, work part-time on various projects. The relationship helps us identify whomever we might need, and they, in turn, evaluate their career possibilities at the municipality. Thanks to help from the Soros Open Society Foundation, we have managed to grant them a monthly retainer on top of their salary, because it is still very low by comparison with their expectations. Meanwhile, we are also insisting that international institutions help finance the return of Western-educated Albanian youth to work at Albanian institutions. It is a year now since we brought Albanian and foreign students together at the Summer Urban Planning Academy under the guidance of foreign professors in our urban planning studio. They collaborate on projects that we later apply in Tirana. If you think you have something to offer us, do not hesitate.


From Indrit, Magdeburg, Germany
Question:
I am studying in Germany, but my future is in Albania. Ideally, I would like to work within your team. Are you tough enough to be prime minister, and lead Albania into Europe?

Edi Rama replies
I am currently the Mayor of the Tirana Municipality, and I assure you that you are welcome in the institution I manage should you truly have something to offer. If I am no longer in this office when your studies are finished, Tirana is a relatively small city. Give me a call, and let us talk.


From Genc, Reston, USA
Question:
Unquestionably, you are a great leader, with excellent and multiple skills in different areas, whose work is more than all my words put together can tell. Almost every single major good thing done lately in Tirana has your signature on it, or at least your artistic approval. Tirana (and Albania) is lucky to have you, but in the meantime it is unfortunate that everything you have done is so closely linked with your team and to your wisdom and individuality, rather than becoming strongly rooted as well with a working juridical system. History teaches us that while a lot of geniuses and brilliant people did extraordinary work, if they did not create a working juridical system to follow it, the results of their efforts in time fade away, or are misinterpreted, or deviate into something even worse than what came before. Are you and your team going to create that kind of working juridical system (similar to what is found in other Western countries) for Tirana mayors, so that whoever follows you will do at least a fair job of inheriting your ideas and approach through a well-established system?

Edi Rama replies
I believe that what has been achieved is, first, the result of teamwork and an administration functioning under the leadership of a considerable number of people who were carefully chosen and were given their jobs because they showed they possessed the required skills and expertise for the task. On the other hand, the local government has expanded its sphere of competences over these years, within the framework of the decentralization process. Thanks to the increasing authority of local government and the central government’s inclination to cede some of its authority, we have managed to pass laws strengthening the local government system and making it more transparent for citizens. The risk of a bad leader undoing what an institution has achieved, however, continues to be a danger in present-day Albania, because it needs a deep structural reform of the state and a substantial modernization in order to be immune to that kind of risk.


From Anila, Tirana, Albania
Question:
Why did you become a member of the Socialist Party? Maybe it would have been better to remain a free intellectual?

Edi Rama replies
Perhaps you are right, perhaps not. Time will tell. But I have to tell you I haven’t regretted it, because my membership will help me contribute to the indispensable reform of the parties. Unless that occurs, Albanian politics and public life will always be afflicted by the diseases that prevent a free intellectual from contributing to her or his country.


From Murian, Kosovo
Question:
Many people who have visited Albania speak of Albanians using two distinct concepts: “Tirana”, on one hand; and, on the other, “the rest” of Albania – a compliment to Tirana’s infrastructure and modernity. How much of this advantage of Tirana over other Albanian cities and towns should solely be credited to your work?

Edi Rama replies
The answer to your question should come from others. What I can say is that part of the credit should go to the team I managed to create.


From June, Tirana, Albania
Question:
There is no denying that, irrespective of all the hostility, political and social, that you have aroused during your work as Mayor of Tirana, you have been singularly successful. What do you feel is your greatest success out of all these achievements?

Edi Rama replies
Surely, rekindling the hope of citizens that their homeland can become a country they do not want to flee.


From Dorejd, Leimen, Germany
Question:
I would like to know from Mayor Rama what measures he has adopted against the widespread corruption in the administration, and whether any positive results have been obtained.

Edi Rama replies
There is corruption in every closed system that lacks self-correction mechanisms. The more open and the more self-checked the system, the fewer will be the opportunities of individuals for personal gain by abusive means in unsupervised positions within the system. This is a simple principle, but when I came to the Tirana Municipality, even the guard received passage money to admit problem-ridden citizens into the institution, which, at the time, had no reception area except a kiosk with two small windows in the back yard, where tens of citizens waited for hours – rain or shine – to be given a birth certificate or some other document. The clerks working behind the small windows of the corrugated iron kiosk were the masters of the citizens’ fates, and could do whatever they liked, including forcing the citizens to pay bribes if they wanted to have their needs addressed, in order that the clerks themselves could then run away as quickly as possible. The complaints of citizens about unfinished procedures and practices were not even taken into consideration, because the system was closed, and a kind of solidarity that reached the absurd existed between the clerks and their chiefs. I do not think that by nature Albanian clerks are any more corruptible than German or Finnish officials, as I am convinced that even a German or a Finn would find it difficult to escape corruption if they were part of a closed system without self-checking mechanisms, that stimulates, constantly, a bargain between the person behind the desk and the citizen who has been waiting for hours to reach the desk.

The answer is not replacing people who took bribes with other bribe-taking people; it is changing the system so that corruption will eventually be reined in, because it is not the people who corrupt the system, but the system that corrupts the people. We radically changed the citizens’ reception process, and computerized it. Citizens coming to the municipality now are received in a hall that is not worse than the elite cafes of Tirana. It has air conditioning and comfortable seats, and an electronic display tells the citizens when it is their turn to register their worries with the waiting clerks, whose performance is monitored. The citizens’ requests and complaints are registered electronically, and transferred to the appropriate office, which examines them and is expected to provide an answer before a specified deadline. If the deadline is not met, the responsible office is then expected to provide an explanation to the mayor’s cabinet. This is one of the systems we have fully modernized.

Thanks to the modernization of the tax collection system, we have managed to collect 998 million Albanian leks in 2001, 1.4 billion in 2002, 2.9 billion in 2003 and 3.6 billion in 2004, compared with the year 2000, when tax collectors with money bags collected 653 million leks. We have also computerized the licensing system of taxis and buses, which were a huge source of abusive profit and an extraordinary problem for the city, because no criteria at all were respected in the allocation of their licences. Now every licensed taxi pays taxes regularly, bears the Tirana Municipality emblem, and offers a very good service. To sum up, we are conscious that much remains to be done; but (citing the above examples) I see the fight against corruption in the Albanian public administration as the struggle to modernize the system of the young Albanian state, and not a mechanical switching of “devils” with “angels”. Neither the devils nor the angels exist if there are no conditions to create them.


From Elnur, Baku City, Azerbaijan
Question:
What would it take to make Tirana the capital of Europe?

Edi Rama replies
Tirana is the big capital of a small European country, but it cannot become, and sees no reason to be, the capital of Europe. For a thousand reasons, Tirana could never be London, or Paris, or Prague. But it could surely be a European capital where, one day, visiting Londoners or Parisians would feel part of the great European family, while its own people would feel comfortable enough that they would not feel they have to seek Europe outside their homes. To be able to live that day, we need intellectual modesty, untiring work and unusual sacrifices. People grow readier for this with each passing day.


From Ina, Chicago, USA
Question:
What makes you such a popular figure amongst young Albanians?

Edi Rama replies
Maybe the fact that I haven’t yet arrived at the point where I am telling them how good I was when I was their age.


From Tim, New York, USA
Question:
Based on your success in Tirana, if there was one piece of advice that you could give to other mayors around the world on ways to improve standards of living and increase opportunities for citizens, what would it be?

Edi Rama replies
My office is not on such a height that I can give advice to others. I try to learn as much as possible from colleagues around the world, and my advisers study successful local government experiences in every continent. And when you see what mayors of very small cities do without any kind of help or visibility in remote corners of the world, you feel an urge to advise, but also an impulse to refrain from doing so.


From Genc, Pristina, Kosovo
Question:
Would you accept the mayor’s position in Pristina? The inhabitants of the capital really need somebody like you. Of course, this is a question, and not an offer, as I am not in any kind of position to make such an offer. I just wish that Mr. Rama, or somebody with his capabilities, would get the position in Pristina.

Edi Rama replies
I am honoured by your question, and I hope that Pristina finds whomever it is looking for, because it has worried me to see that your capital suffers from all of the symptoms Tirana suffered from in the 1990s, when freedom lacked the democratic dimension of civic co-existence in an urban center, and everyone could build illegally whenever and wherever.


From Kreshnik, Gjakova, Kosovo
Question:
You certainly deserve to be elected Mayor of the Year. Bulldozing illegal buildings is a viable choice; however, considering the current economic state of Albania, has the Tirana Municipality, and have you personally, drafted any plans to remedy the damage to the local economy caused by bulldozing income-generating businesses?

Edi Rama replies
I can tell you that the local economy did not suffer. It immediately bounced back, on a more secure footing. The territories once occupied by illegal buildings have been turned into public spaces for all, while businesses have set up their bases on legal land, and their activities have started again in a healthier business environment, within a common space of greater size and higher quality. It has helped the revenue of enterprises. Figures show this very clearly.


From Juliana, Tirana, Albania
Question:
Noticeable work has been done to change the fatigued image of the Albanian capital, Tirana. On the other hand, if you compare Tirana's pace of development with that of other cities and towns in Albania, you will be shocked by a very sharp contrast. In your opinion, what can be done to increase efficiency in running and managing other municipalities in the country? Where should the other city mayors focus their abilities and energies in order to catch up with Tirana's development? Thank you!

Edi Rama replies
I believe my colleagues in the bigger cities should focus on decentralization, and cooperate with the central government, which has shown willingness to cooperate, in order to cope with the extraordinary burden of internal demographic movements, because they experience a terrible disproportion between their needs and the available resources.

Just like Tirana, which has trebled in size in the past ten years, Shkodra, Durres and Vlora are the hottest spots in the urbanisation drama in the period of the free movement of people. On the other hand, my colleagues are doing a lot. Harking back to the issue of human talent and resourcefulness, however, I must stress that they have even bigger problems than the capital. Talented and university-trained youth quit the smaller cities. I have often asked our international partners to consider investing to stem the brain drain from Albania through programmes that would cost much less than any other failed programme that continues for years without any visible or concrete results.


From Dritan, Montréal. Canada
Question:
Your work speaks for itself. It is so obvious, all of the contribution you've made as Mayor of Tirana, making it a symbol and a good example for the whole country. There's a lot to say about your good and well-organized work, which has changed Tirana's look and its people’s mentality about work. But, even with a very strong respect for your work during these years, I think much still needs to be done, especially fighting corruption and motivating small but well organized businesses. First, do you agree with that? And second, do you, or does your team, have a programme to realize and develop that process, so that in the future we can see more well educated and really motivated people (possibly young) getting involved in the political and economic development of that city and – why not? – the whole country?

Edi Rama replies
I refrained from making any promise, and said that we needed to do more for Tirana in every direction. “Even more for Tirana” became the slogan of our campaign. That means, naturally, even more against corruption. With regard to youth and the national policy, the youth are still very indifferent, and I understand them very well. But, at the same time, they should dismiss any thoughts they might have about anyone rolling out the red carpet for them to sit in parliament. They need to get their act together if they really want to change the country, and not have it changed by others. The first signs are out there, so let’s hope that the gathering energy of the youth of Tirana will materialize in solid change.


From Thanas, Columbus, USA
Question:
Given that you are already serving your second term as Mayor of Tirana, I would like to ask you what you have done to ensure that your legacy of good local governance will continue after you leave office.

Edi Rama replies
A mayor in Albania today can help create conditions in her or his local government institution to nurture a team of young, capable and devoted professionals with a mindset independent of politics or clan ties. I believe I have created this type of team, and they do not lack the conditions for professional development. But, naturally, if my successor chooses the wrong way, scorning the technocrats and professionals and turning the municipality into a nest of party aficionados, it is not impossible that our work will wane. A long-term absence of democratic institutions cannot be remedied in three, six or nine years. Goodwill is an indispensable condition.  


From Frederic, Toulon, France
Question:
A few weeks ago, I read in a French newspaper that because of bad cars, especially diesels, Tirana was one of the most polluted cities in Europe, which contributes to cancer and respiratory illnesses. Until 1990, Tirana was empty of cars. Did we go from one extreme to the other? Do you foresee any plan of severe restriction of motor traffic in all of Tirana to maintain the human characteristics of this beautiful city at the foot of Dajti mountain? Any system of tramways, of trolley buses?

Edi Rama replies
Without a doubt, we have gone from one extreme to the other. In 1990, there were only 600 cars, all for the use of the communist hierarchy, while private cars were banned and citizens moved around in buses and on bicycles. About 100,000 vehicles criss-cross Tirana every day, and that figure includes the private cars of citizens, as well as thousands of trucks plying the city streets because Tirana lacks an outer ring road. The status of the engines of these vehicles is surely deplorable; but, despite our efforts to help the environment, our appeals have fallen on deaf ears. Local government has no power in that area except for setting standards for taxis and bus lines. We are working to start building a tram system, but we realistically think that implementing such a project will require a lot of time. 


From Kristo, Tirana, Albania
Question:
Have you done anything since you became mayor to make the city safer for its homosexual population? And why has every attempt to open a gay bar in Tirana been turned down by the municipality?

Edi Rama replies
We have not received any such request because nobody needs permission from us about the nature of his or her bar, restaurant or nightclub. Everyone is free to choose the type of bar, kind of service, cuisine, music and clients in accordance with their wishes.

Homosexuals in Albania face the same problems they encounter in any social environment rife with prejudice stemming from a long isolation and backwardness. But they are surely freer today than 15 years ago, when homosexuality was punishable by jail. On the other hand, the legacy of the past increases the pressure of the present-day social environment on homosexuals, impairing both their public search for rights and the coming out of homosexuals individually. I believe, however, that the pressure is losing steam each day.


From Blerta, Pristina, Kosovo
Question:
How did you succeed in putting a stop to illegal construction, and were you ever threatened over the issue?

Edi Rama replies
Two things were very important. First, no distinctions were to be made, which meant that all were equal before the law. It helped everyone understand that his or her structure would be pulled down, and the public space would be returned to the citizens, even if you had a kiosk, or even if you had some support or a guarantee from a relative or friend in the state administration offices, or even if you had built a five-storey building because you were once a policeman or took the money from a corrupt customs official or government officer. The second step was turning the space into a quality environment, such as with a pavement, or a street, sports ground, garden, park or river serving the city and its citizens. The process helped the citizens, as well as the “damaged party” that had accumulated illegal wealth, realize that we were bringing down an abomination to start building anew on a solid foundation of shared civic values, and we were not tearing them down just for the pleasure of seeing the ruins. Our winning card was the support of most citizens. Of course, people did not come out into the streets to help push the bulldozers, but their pressure, expressed through the general enthusiasm reflected in the media, made the resistance of the illegal builders very marginal and weak. Threats are surely part of this game, but they have, luckily, remained just anonymous messages up to now.


From Nendrina, Tirana, Albania
Question:
Have you any plans to reduce the proportion of the employees of Tirana Municipality that are female (75 per cent), and give men a greater chance to work for the city?

Edi Rama replies
Wow! Surely I have no plan to cut the number of women at the Tirana Municipality, not only because I believe women constitute an extraordinary and mostly unexploited resource in a country tired of males striking heroic postures, but I have tangible evidence of their successful work in the institution I head. Let us clarify, for the record, that women make up 55 per cent of the administration staff, and 75 per cent of them hold managing jobs. They have never been an obstacle for men, because they have been been chosen not because they were women, but because they were the best candidates for the jobs they perform now. Albania and the Balkans would be quite different if women governed them, and the same might even be true for Italy. Without sliding into matriarchy, I feel confident that change in Albania could be speedier, and we could draw closer to European integration, if there was greater participation of women in all the levels of government.  


From Blendian, Pristina, Kosovo
Question:
Why have you packed the city centre of Tirana with high-rise buildings when you could have extended the residential area around the city, where there is enough space for urban development?

Edi Rama replies
There are a lot of views about this, my friend. We should both specialize in the field. The project of the Tirana City Centre was conceived thanks to a high-level international competition that was won by the well-known French firm Architecture Studio. Following almost a year of work and long discussions, we have managed to finalize a master plan to serve as the basis for three international competitions for  designs for three privately-financed buildings, and two other competitions for the central square and the bookshops on the Lana River that we wish to build, and expect to be able to do so thanks to a public and private partnership.  In the meantime, we are preparing an international competition for the greater regulatory plan of Tirana, covering, even, the surroundings of the city. As you can see, we are trying to do thoroughly well-studied work in order not only to avoid the mistakes of the past, but also to give the city a new dimension through its inclusion in our rejuvenating project run by architects coming from different countries and with varying cultures.


From Marian, Tirana, Albania
Question:
What advice can you offer to mayors in other former communist countries with regard to the financing and/or persuasion methods to be used in order for their old, dull communist buildings to be transformed in an optimistic, artful way?

Edi Rama replies
I have been terrified of such a prospect since the time communist Albania claimed to have a model to offer to all the peoples of the world. We are a small country, so we should make sure that we do not lose our sense of reality and get caught in the delirium that often grabs small countries when they lose their bearings. I am very happy to see that what we have done is liked and praised by others, because it helps Albanians regain their confidence about the future, and helps improve our image in the eyes of others who are otherwise obliged to look at us in the not-always-accurate mirror of the international media, which tends to give a stereotyped reflection. But that happiness does fail to make me lose my presence of mind to the point where I start giving advice.


From Sokol, Cairo, Egypt
Question:
You created what was absent and improved what already existed in Tirana, in terms of infrastructure and services. What about the mentality of Tirana’s inhabitants? Do you see it presenting any problems for your creativity?

Edi Rama replies
Changing the mentality is key to guaranteeing the foundations of our infrastructure, but mentality cannot change in one or ten years and, above all, it cannot change with words and slogans. Work and concrete examples will do the job. After 50 years of empty talk and slogans, Albanians are all like Saint Thomas; they do not believe unless they touch and see for themselves. In a rebuilt and well-kept park they behave like Europeans, and do not throw the Coca-Cola can or the crushed cigarette pack on the grass. They do not shout in a well-illuminated office, and they make sure they wipe their shoes clean when stepping inside. They stop at the red traffic light if it works, and do not park on the pavement if it is actually paved.  But they do not behave in the same way if no one offers them the green carpet of the park, the well-kept environment, the well-paved sidewalk and the functioning traffic lights. My predecessor complained that he could not plant a flower because it was bound to disappear the next day, or fix a lamp, because it would be broken the next day. But he just complained, and neither planted a flower nor fixed a lamp. Time taught us that the more flowers and trees we planted, and the more lamps we fixed, the less damage would come to the city environment. Albanians were fed up with empty talk, and became very aggressive after years of neglect from a government that scorned them. Offering them tangible improvement has helped change their mentality. Increasing the quality of the environment can achieve what a whole police force cannot achieve in preserving law and order. 


From Lida, Turin, Italy
Question:
How sustainable institutionally is what you have achieved, in case you do not win the next local elections?

Edi Rama replies
I think I answered this question earlier, but I can add that I believe that I will win the election again, and be able to breathe life into my nine-year project for Tirana.


From Elvin, Tirana, Albania
Question:
Does Tirana Municipality plan to use the capital market to raise funds (via municipal bonds), and if so, when? Is there any plan to move things forward in this regard?

Edi Rama replies
Raising funds using municipal bonds is another battle we are waging with the government and parliament to help fill the legal vacuum in the relationship between the local government and the capital markets. Within this mandate, we hope to get an agreement on the legal front.  


From Ardi, Michigan, USA
Question:
If you win the 2004 World Mayor award, how will you share it with the citizens of Tirana?

Edi Rama replies
There is a lot of impatience in Tirana for the final result of this race, of which I am honoured to be a member. I am sure that the mere fact of my participation in this contest has helped the belief and confidence of our community in what we have done so far to grow. Of course, every serious evaluation from the world we have been dreaming of joining for decades will help boost our morale.  Winning the contest will undoubtedly carry a totally different significance along the hard, but also exciting, journey we have embarked on. There is also no doubt whatsoever that I will dedicate any prize to my team and to the workaholic community of the Tirana Municipality.





The same public open space four years into Edi Rama's mayorship

Introducing
World Mayor 2006

The World Mayor project is now in its third year. As in 2004 and 2005, this year’s World Mayor will again be seeking out mayors who have the vision, passion and skills to make their cities amazing places to live in, work in and visit. The World Mayor project aims to show what outstanding mayors can achieve and raise their profiles. It honours those who have served their communities well and who have made contributions to the well-being of cities nationally and internationally. The most outstanding mayor of 2006 will be presented with the World Mayor award.

In 2004, Edi Rama, Mayor of Tirana, won the Award. The 2005 winner was Dora Bakoyannis, Mayor of Athens and now Greek Foreign Minister.

Between January and May each year, citizens from across the world are invited to nominate mayors for the World Mayor Award. They are also asked to provide reasons for their choice. After the close of the nomination stage, City Mayors, the organisers of the contest, prepare a shortlist of mayors who go forward to the second round of the World Mayor contest. In 2006, the list of finalists includes 50 mayors from North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australasia as well as Africa.