Are the Germans taking over Romania?

Not quite those Germans.

What’s happening in Romania, then? Handelsblatt reports. It’s time to pick a president, and the Social Democratic candidate looks in a strong position – although he finished second by a few points in the first round of the French-style presidential election, he’s got promises of support from several other parties, notably the Liberals and the Hungarian minority.

Fascinatingly, though, as part of the agreement with these groups, he’s promised to appoint the independent mayor of Sibiu – Hermannstadt in German – as prime minister. That’ll be one Klaus Johannis. Yes; he’s a Transylvanian German, the first time that a member of this minority will head the government. Of course, Romania has a hell of a lot of problems; the economy’s going to shrink between 7.5 and 8 per cent this year, there’s an IMF requirement to cut the public sector deficit to 7.3 per cent of GDP at the same time (ah, the IMF – never an institution to risk popularity by changing its ideas), and the country’s elite is full of old spooks from the Ceaucescu years.

But I can’t help but be amazed at the idea of a Romanian government that includes the Hungarians and is headed by a German, within 20 years of the revolution and 5 years of the CIA operating a secret jail in the suburbs of Bucharest. Well – non- or quasi-revolution might be more like it, which just adds force to the point. There are other reasons to be cheerful; HaBa also points out that there is some €32bn in EU funding heading that way in the next few years, which ought to help. If you want an inspiring European story, it’s right there.

However, they also note that the Renault Logan car factory accounts for 2 per cent of GDP and 15 per cent of net exports. I guess they can’t really be criticised for pinning their hopes on export-led growth when the UK and Germany are doing exactly that.

9 thoughts on “Are the Germans taking over Romania?

  1. Alex, it seems that Mircea Geoana, the Social Democratic candidate, will not win the elections after all and thus Mr. Johannis will, most likely, not head the government.

    I agree, it is a good thing that he made till here. Transylvanian Germans (and Germans generally) are regarded favorably in Romania; in this respect the Romanian case is different from, let’s say, Poland or the Czech Republic.
    Also bear in mind that Romania was ruled by a German dynasty for more than 80 years and that period is generally regarded favorably.

    Also, the Hungarian party has taken part in every government between 1996-2008 so there’s not really a big change in there.

    From that respect it really would have been something if the prime-minister were a Gypsy/Roma or a Hungarian ethnic.

    I’m not sure about the “CIA operating a secret jail in the suburbs of Bucharest”. I know there were articles written about this subject, I think it could have happened but I haven’t seen any evidence until now. And anyway I don’t see a connection between CIA secret jails and the level of ethnic tolerance of Romanians.

  2. Pingback: Are the Germans taking over Romania? | afoe | A Fistful of Euros … | World News

  3. Hungarians are still viewed askance, but — as Paul correctly points out — they’re just slightly too big a voting bloc to be ignored,. So every Romanian government buys them off with a couple of minor ministries and some juicy government contracts for the ethnic Hungarian party’s leadership. This has led to some disaffection, as little of this trickles down to ordinary Hungarians in Romania, but on the other hand if they start splitting their vote they’re likely to lose what influence they have.

    Ethnic Germans used to be viewed with a mixture of admiration and resentment. As their numbers dwindled in the 1990s, the resentment faded, so that the admiration now (mostly) dominates. They’re seen as hard-working, organized, and somewhat more honest than Romanians, and there’s a belated realization that their mass exodus under and after Ceausescu was a huge loss for Romania.

    Doug M.

  4. Alex,

    While the idea of a German leading a government with Hungarian Party may seem strange, in reality it is not such a big deal. It is only a routine political arrangement. To quote a famous journalist, these elections marked a fight between the “fear of tomorrow” and “hatred towards corrupt elites” (the spooks you mentioned). Most likely, “fear of tomorrow” won.

    1) Most likely the Social-Democrat candidate – Geoana- will win (3 exit polls are in his favor, with 50.8 to 51.6%).

    2) Klaus Johannis (the possible German PM) is most likely to be appointed due to his good public image.

    3) Since 1996, the Hungarians have always been part of Government – also for the good public image in respect of minority rights which was (and maybe still is, but not so significant) a liability of our policies.

    Having a Romanian PM of self-declared rroma origin – now that would be a true sign of change.

  5. Pingback: Fruits and Votes » Prof. Shugart's Blog » More on the Romanian runoff

  6. As Paul points out, it does not look as though Geoana will win, the current tally indicate that he will trail the incumbent Basescu by a few tenths of a percent. Nevertheless, this does not entirely erase the possibility of a Johannis premiership, since Basescu has also hinted at the possibility of appointing the mayor if he wins.

  7. I am surprised that you don’t mention Dr Saed Arafat, of Palestianian origin, who reformed the Ambulance system in Romania and is a much respect sub-secretary in the Health Dept.

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