Yesterday Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj posted a series of photographs on his Instagram account showing minors holding a letter he had sent them at the beginning of the school year. This is not the first time that Veliaj has used images of minors, without their consent or that of their parents, for political gain. His social media accounts frequently feature children, often held or touched by the Mayor of Tirana.
In his letter, the mayor openly promotes several development projects in Tirana, including the controversial renovation of the Pyramid designed by Dutch architecture company MVRDV. He also announced that the Tirana Marathon will be planned on October 13, the day on which President Meta has announced local elections.
Veliaj has portrayed himself as a champion of youth, while consistently destroying recreational spaces in Tirana, most recently Parku Rinia, and while destroying liveability through numerous high-rise projects. His plan to build new schools through public–private partnerships will cost Albanian taxpayers millions for the next decades, while giving private entities the possibility of using public school buildings for their own profit, creating an unsafe education environment.
At the same time, the public school system has been effectively turned into a vote buying machine, with directors and teachers forced by the Socialist Party to gather votes, as shown by the Electiongate wiretaps. In that light, the letter sent by Veliaj, and the subsequent posting of images of minors on his Instagram account, fits into a pattern of intensified politicization of the classroom, and the abuse of his political position as mayor for party political gains.