romanian president

The President of Romania



region colonist time has stood still
settle restore bear witness
elect former witness
mayor minority get things done
reduce nepotism cronyism
trick key (2) favoritism
consider prone (2) corruption
local channel (3) challenge (2)
bribery authority opponent
grease Greece get things done
values instead confident
hope symbol ambition





Time seems to stand still in Hermanschtat or Sibiu in the middle of Romania’s region of Transylvania.

German colonist settled in this region, which they called, “Siebenburgen” in the Middle Ages.

Lovingly restored streets and squares bear witness to their history.

Once there were 250,000 ethnic-Germans living here; but most of them emigrated during the Ceausescu dictatorship.

Ethnic Germans are a minority. But now one of them, Klaus Johanis, formerly mayor of Sibiu, has been elected Romanian president.

Johanis: “When I was the mayor Hermanschtat, or Sibiu in Romanian, people in Romania got used to an ethnic-German being able to get things done in Romanian politics.”

The key to his success was his radical reduction of nepotism. Some say Johanis managed that with a simple trick: key jobs, like here at the public construction authority, are held mostly by women.

They are considered less prone to corruption.

And that’s why none of the millions spent on restoring the city of 120,000 went into corrupt channels.

The construction workers say that in Sibiu, what gets you a job is what you can do—not whom you know.

Construction worker: “In Iasi (another Romania city), all the people must know somebody who is in a high position to be employed. And here in Sibiu, it’s alright for me.”

Johanis: “People often ask me, just because that’s how things are in Hermanschtat, why do I think that could be that way elsewhere? Well Hermanschtat is a Romanian city in the middle of Romania. And I think people everywhere think like people in Hermanschtat.”

But as president, Johanis faces bigger challenges than he did in local politics. His greatest opponents are right next to his office in Bucharest—in the parliament.

Here bribery is the grease that still gets things done. Almost every week there is a new scandal. And the corruption extends to the highest government offices.

Citizen: “I’ll just wait and see. I just hope things don’t get worse.”

But Johanis is confident of success.

Johanis: “Many Romanians want a different kind of president. One who will put on less of a show and instead do a bit more for his country.”

The new president will take part in one new show: Sibiu’s Christmas market. When he was mayor here, it grew to become Romania’s largest. That too is a symbol of his political ambitions: to build the future with traditional values.

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1. “Time seems to stand still in Hermanschtat or Sibiu.” What does this mean? Do skyscrappers dominate the city skyline?

2. What is the history of ethnic Germans in Sibiu?

3. Who is Klaus Johanis? What happened to him?

4. Klaus had experience in politics. Is this correct or wrong? Did he improve Sibiu? What was one of his secrets?

5. Are the cities of Iasi and Sibiu the same or different, according to the construction worker?

6. Is Klaus confident he can succeed in improving Romania? Why is he confident?

7. He will have a difficult task as president. Do you agree? Why will he have big challenges?
A. Is corruption a problem in your city? Can you give examples?

B. Does corruption affect business and the economy?

C. Are citizens fed up with corruption? Do they protest or demonstrate?

D. How can corruption be solved or reduced?

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