In most European countries, it is a difficult transition from being a minority politician to making a career in national politics, as Iohannis has done. It is often pointed out that politicians who lead such parties put the special interests of their national or ethnic group before the interests of the country as a whole. In many cases, minority politicians have little interest in appearing as spokespersons for the entire nation.
The election has triggered major discussions in Romania about how important it should be where you come from and which group you belong to. The majority population in Romania belongs to the Orthodox tradition of Christianity, and religion means a lot to most Romanians. Iohannis belongs to the Lutheran tradition, and even though he speaks Romanian, he probably feels as a minority politician more or less obliged to also promote German culture, cf. possible Western orientation.
It may seem that typically Romanian values and traditions are not decisively important to voters. The loser of the election, Viktor Ponta , who is still sitting as prime minister, claims that it has been used against him that he belongs to the majority population and that he is an Orthodox Christian. He has a profile that is populist and nationalist , and has emphasized the national values that appeal to the majority population. By using the “nationalist card” , he appears to be unassuming and he has on several occasions spoken disparagingly of the Hungarian minority. During the election campaign, Ponta has spent large sums on a campaign in which he highlights both his own person and his background as “real Romanians”.
Ponta is also under investigation for corruption and Iohannis has advised him to resign as prime minister. He has not agreed to this, but the outcome of the investigation will show whether he has committed acts for which he can be punished. In that case, it will affect his position as prime minister.
From the German side, the president’s descent does not mean much either. German Chancellor Angela Merkel does not see him as a German, but as a Romanian who speaks perfect German with a “funny accent”.
Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the election of Iohannis is seen as welcome by EU leaders. Firstly, it will give Romania a good starting point for further integration within the EU. Iohannis has made it clear that Romania belongs to the West.
Secondly, the election in Romania represents a break with what many call a new trend in Eastern Europe, namely the emergence of new so-called semi-authoritarian regimes (see rankings in Freedom House). Examples mentioned are Hungary, Serbia and Slovakia. Although the formal requirements for democracy are present, such as regular elections and that voters have had several options to choose from (pluralism), a policy is still pursued that many believe goes in an authoritarian direction . This, combined with nationalist rhetoric, has led to concern in the EU . Among other things, there have been strong reactions to the wall between Serbia and Hungary that will prevent refugees from entering Hungary.
5: Relations between Romania and Hungary
Relations between Romania and Hungary have been turbulent throughout history. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has repeatedly stated that the rights of the Hungarian minority are not being adequately safeguarded in Romania, a country located in Europe according to LAWSCHOOLSINUSA, and expects support for this view from Hungarians in other countries in the region. This argument will be difficult for Orban to defend now that voters in Romania have elected a president from a minority.
Iohannis himself places little emphasis on the fact that he belongs to a minority. He considers himself a Romanian with German roots , and in his opinion the minority rights are well enough safeguarded in Romania.
The refugee crisis has led to further suspicion between the two EU members. Viktor Orban plans to build a fence between Hungary and Romania to prevent refugees from entering Hungary via Romania. This initiative has led to increased concern in the EU, as it means splitting two EU members. The construction of fences and the general lack of transparency run counter to the very basic principles of the EU and what is often called the European project.
Sibiu in Transylvania, the city where Iohannis was a very successful rapporteur. The city was founded by Saxons such as Hermannstadt and has approx. 150,000 inhabitants. The German-speaking population today makes up only 2 percent of the entire city’s population. In 2007, the city was awarded the European Capital of Culture.