Romania Elects a German President: Hail, Iohannis!

After a decade with President Basescu and four different prime ministers, a new time has come to Romanian politics – a time of normalcy.  It is staggering indeed that a candidate runs and wins on a platform of „a normal Romania.”  Campaigns are usually about extravagant and exhilarating promises that nobody plans to keep, but they grab the people’s attentions and, more importantly, exploit their desperate craving for a better tomorrow. This guy was a little different and there are several things that put him apart.

A number of circumstances have led to Klaus Iohannis’s election. First and foremost, he did not have the strongest opponent. Had he run against Sorin Oprescu or even Mircea Geoana, he would have probably lost. Yet, that does not matter, because he won against Victor Ponta.   Also, Iohannis became a national politician in 2009 when he was denied the prime minister position by Traian Basescu. Again, had Basescu appointed him, there are good chances he would have lost the presidency.   Despite all that, Iohannis won largely because of his German origin, mayoral record, and Romania’s demographics.

Romania’s youth have launched an unprecedented campaign in support of Iohannis, largely through social media, but also mass public gatherings.  Ironically, young Romanians felt inspired by Iohannis despite him being much older than Ponta. Young people were craving for a free minded straight talking manager, as opposed to a flamboyant opportunistic politician. IoKlaus-Johannis-lansat-si-la-Bacau-1hannis is not at all your typical candidate as he has little if any charisma, but neither did Angela Merkel. The newly elected president has something much more valuable – integrity and vision to bring Romania on the track of normalcy, no matter how oddly it sounds.

Still, as with every inspirational candidate, expectations may be too high. I am afraid, even despite Iohannis’s fairly low key promises; Romanians may be up for an upset. Especially, those voters in diasporas who overwhelmingly backed Iohannis will hardly see Romania transformed on their watch. Honestly, things could even turn into a major disappointment. Remember the hype about Constantinescu’s election or even the historic win of Barack Obama, politicians may inevitably disappoint as they are merely human and have way less things under their control than the public likes to think.

All this is not meant as an excuse, but rather as a sober reminding that often major excitements come at the cost of major disappointments. Let us hope that Iohannis will be different and have the power to steer Romanian political class towards constructive dialog and, who knows, maybe even fruitful cooperation. Let us hope that he will use his slow soft spoken tone to conduct the political and bureaucratic machine towards engineering a better future for Romania. Let us also hope that Romania will become a little more like Germany. Finally, let us all hope that it is not too much to ask.

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2 responses to “Romania Elects a German President: Hail, Iohannis!

  1. khoroshiy chelovek

    not quite right, actually quite wrong. The vote was mainly anti-Ponta, as he is regarded as a symbol of his party’s corruption; he also has a stance which most of the Romanians do not regard it as compatible with a serious and mature politician. The last drop was one of his many lies, that he intended to do things right for the second leg, while maintaining the same defective election framework with the same humiliation felt by the people living abroad. The people went nuts, and their homeland families too, and the more liberal youth which have been raised in the modern world’s values of freedom and democracy.. it all went haywire and down drain on Ponta.

    Johannis, Santa Klaus himself, or any other more chewable candidate would have won on Sunday, a clear sign that no politician, even benign looking ones, can stay put against the enraged furry of its own people..

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    • I agree that there was a significant anti-Ponta vote, though I would not go as far as calling it decisive. In rest, you elaborated on my points. Romanians are indeed fed up with PSD and the political establishment in general that is why they, mainly the youth and the more educated urban dwellers, as well as diasporas, voted for Iohannis – an outsider. And yes, I agree that “any other more chewable candidate would have won”, that is why I suggested that all the hype about Iohannis may backfire, because he will face an uphill battle. The center right front is very turbulent and, given recent Romanian political history, I would not be surprised to see the current coalition backing him fall apart over some personal feud. Again, let us hope for the better.

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