I was watching Top Channel last night, first the news, then Fiks Fare. According to them Tirana's citizens now have a choice not only between Rama and Olldashi, but also between Rama and Rama. A minor right-wing faction, Parti 'Balli Kombetar', submitted papers to the election authorities registering their candidate, Akile Rama.The people on Fiks Fare got hold of the papers and sent a reporter and camera team to the address listed for Mr A Rama. After much ringing of the bell the gate was reluctantly opened by a middle-aged woman who refused to speak to the reporter and tried to close the gate on her.Back in the studio Saimiri and Doctori - the two presenters of Fiks Fare - revealed that Mr Akile Rama was 73 years old, in hospital, and did not know he was now a candidate for mayor. They also compared two documents - the papers submitted on his behalf, and a genuine document he had signed. The signatures were not even remotely similar.There was an interview with the leader of PBK - Artur Roshi, I believe - but my grasp of Albanian broke down completely at that point so I'm not sure what he said.What is going on here? I haven't been able to find any reference to this story elsewhere. Even the PBK website doesn't mention their new candidate. (Though it doesn't mention the other Mr Rama, nor Mr Olldashi, nor the elections, so I'm not sure how significant Akile's absence is.)Either this is a monumentally stupid ploy by the right-wing to confuse left-wing voters - MR A Rama will appear before Mr E Rama on the ballot paper - or its a cunning ploy by the left-wing to make the right-wing look bad. Or its a brilliant spoof by Top Channel. Can anyone out there enlighten me?In other election news, the beaming face of Rama, E was looming over me last night from a bus which has been turned into a mobile advertisement for the mayor. Not to be outdone, Olldashi, S has hired a fleet of mobile advertising hoardings - large illuminated posters on the back of vans - which are doing the rounds of Tirana. I saw four in a row near Rinia Park a few days ago.The latest Olldashi posters now have an address for his campaign website which, among other things, has a forum. I hope it's moderated.
Ask me how much I knew about Albania before coming here and my list would be a short one: Enver Hoxha, bunkers and Sir Norman Wisdom. I have no idea when or how I acquired this extensive body of knowledge, but the association of Norman Wisdom with Albania was by far the most interesting part of it. I remember watching Norman Wisdom's old films on British television. My parents were fans of his wholesome, slapstick comedy, but apparently missed the ideological significance of Pitkin's relationship with Mr Grimsdale. Pitkin, the downtrodden and oppressed representative of the workers, triumphed every time over his capitalist oppressor, Mr Grimsdale - and he got the girl. It took a theorist of Hoxha's insight and profundity to discern this deeper political message. It always seemed tremendously unlikely, yet the story of Sir Norman's fame in Albania has been reported in worthy sources like the BBC , the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph . According to the Guardian, when Wi