The election of Klaus Iohannis as a president of Romania is ubiquitous and has taken by storm the European politics, being not only a ground-breaking victory for the Romanian autochthonous politics, but also its Western counterparts, for ‘It is rare for any — certainly any East European — country to vote a member of the nation’s ethnic minorities to top political offices, never mind the presidency’1. His stellar rise from being mayor of Sibiu, Hermannstadt, where the largest group of the Siebenbürger Saxons live2, to being the incumbent of the presidential office at the Cotroceni Pallace went against all odds. There is no series of objective and quantifiable factors that can be scrutinised so as to provide a grounded explanation for his success. First and foremost, it is the defiance of the statistical prospects of Mr. Klaus Johannis, for in the first round of elections he was severely lagging behind with no less than 10% to his main contender, the Socialist Democrat Victor Ponta3. Exist polls in the aftermath of the first ballot tour sporadically pointed candidate Klaus Johannis as having real chances to land the presidential office. However, the electoral arithmetic was debunked by the final results, when after an initial close run, the victory saw the first-round percentages inverted, Klaus Iohannis overtaking Ponta by 10%4.
Secondly, not even the calculations render Iohannis’s victory as striking, but his backdrop. In these respects, Klaus Iohannis is descending from the dwindling German minority of Romania. So, from being a mayor of the provincial city of Sibiu to the candidate of the National Liberal Party (PNL) and, ultimately, the president of Romania, seems to be tantamount to impossibility, since it is highly uncommon in the majority of the European countries to elect a member of a minority to such a high-held official position. Yet, there were political signposts foretelling his successful transition from municipal leadership to being the Head of the State: ‘The fact that he won the election in 2000 and subsequently with a large majority, despite Germans constituting only a small minority in Sibiu (less than 2%) suggests a broad appeal transcending classic minority politics’5. Briefly, his achievement is a token of how minority-originating politicians can have a broader political appeal, that it is not solely confined to their community. Nonetheless, it is the very nature of his descendance – Germanic – that enabled him to go beyond the majority-minority divide, because were he to be a member of the internally-dissented Hungarian minority or the socially-ostracised Roma community, such an outcome would have been less likely.
1 MacShane, Denis. “Romania: The German Factor and a Continental Pattern.” The Globalist, 18 Nov. 2014, www.theglobalist.com/romania-the-german-factor-and-a-pattern/ .
2 Deutsche Welle. “Romania’s Ethnic Germans Get Their Day in the Spotlight | Europe| News and Current Affairs from around the Continent | DW | 18.11.
2014.” DW.COM, 18 Nov.
2014, www.dw.com/en/romanias-ethnic-germans-get-their-day-in-the-spotlight/a-18072299 .3 “Rezultate Finale 2 Noiembrie 2014.” Http://Www.
bec2014.Ro, Biroul Electoral Central, 2 Nov. 2014, www.
bec2014.ro/rezultate-finale-2-noiembrie-2014/ .4 “Rezultate Partiale 16 Noiembrie 2014.” Http://Www.bec2014.
Ro, Biroul Electoral Central, 16 Nov. 2014, www.bec2014.ro/rezultate-partiale-16-noiembrie-2014/ .
5 Bieber, Florian. “The Meaning of Klaus Iohannis’s Victory in Romania.” Florian Bieber’s Notes from Syldavia, 17 Nov. 2014, https://florianbieber.org/2014/11/17/the-meaning-of-klaus-iohannis-victory-in-romania/ .