Shock as Sibiu guy wins Romanian election

Sibiu's main square at night. Photo: Bernard O'Shea

Sibiu’s main square at night. All photos: Bernard O’Shea

I was very surprised to read on the news late last night that the Mayor of Sibiu, Klaus Iohannis, had beaten Prime Minister Victor Ponta in the Romanian presidential election. Ponta had won the first round, in which there were 14 candidates, and was tipped in the opinion polls to beat Iohannis in the subsequent two-candidate run-off.

Sibiu was where I did a two-week summer language course last year, through the Rolang School. The city was once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and was one of the fortified Saxons towns on the south-eastern frontier (the goal being to halt any Ottoman invasion). Its German name was Hermannstadt, and the German influence is still there, although it has been diluted significantly, as the German community had to put up with a lot of persecution and oppression under the communist regime, and many left when they could. Klaus Iohannis himself is an ethnic German.

This is called Liar's Bridge. I swear!

This is called Liar’s Bridge. I swear I am telling the truth!

When I was there, the locals told me that Sibiu was widely regarded as the most well-run and least corrupt city in Romania, and they said, if only the rulers of Sibiu could rule the country too, but you never know whether that is just local boastful talk, exaggeration or naivety. Well, now they have got their wish, to a limited extent – how much can one man change an entrenched political system? Good luck to him.

According to news reports, in Romania, the president is in charge of foreign policy and defence, and names key prosecutors and the chiefs of intelligence services.

Anyway, the news coverage made me feel nostalgic and I’ve plucked out some of my pics of Sibiu to hopefully inspire you. Summer language courses, 2015, anyone?


Sibiu is a festive place. While I was there, it hosted a very colourful international dance festival, followed shortly after by an international Gothic rock festival, headlined by bands from Germany and Scandinavia. Check out some of the vibes.

A Romanian troupe at  Sibiu's international dance festival

A Romanian troupe at Sibiu’s international dance festival

But it was the South American dancers who really caught the eye

But it was the South American dancers who really caught the eye

Germanic folk, maybe? At a dance festival.

Germanic folk, maybe? At the dance festival.

Fun with the dancing fountains

Fun with the dancing fountains


I don’t know which band this guy plays in – it was one of the “filler” Romanian acts early in the day – but he was a bloody good guitarist and his band was excellent (they had a female lead singer who also played keyboards). If you are out there, Mr Guitarist, send me a CD!

Rock and roll played loud in a city square at 11am is a great way to start the day! (Bernardo's a late starter)

Rock n roll played loud in a city square at mid-morning  is a great way to start the day! (Bernardo’s a late starter)


Just outside Sibiu at Dumbrava is the ASTRA National Museum complex, the country’s largest open air museum, where you can see traditional houses and artifacts from over the country. Plus some folkloric singers and dancers, if you are lucky.

Girls, girls, girls!

Girls, girls, girls!

No place like home

No place like a quaint old home

And what was he thinking?

And what was he thinking?



3 thoughts on “Shock as Sibiu guy wins Romanian election

  1. Hi, Bernard.
    Interesting post, as always!
    Indeed, Klaus Iohannis surprisingly won the elections, and he did this by convincing young people, aged 18-35, to vote. And he did it mainly through Facebook.
    Maybe one man cannot change much, but what this guy did was give people (especially young people) enough hope to make them change their attitude from watching things go from bad to worse and do nothing about it, to taking action. And that might just be enough for a start.
    As I grew up in Sibiu, we Romanians lived alongside the German community until most of them returned to Germany after the 1989 revolution (as you mention in your post), and I remember the Germans being always admired by us, Romanians, as well-organized people, so that is why especially people from Transilvania trust Iohannis. That is also the reason why he was consecutively elected Mayor of Sibiu since 2000, and people are very content with his job as a Mayor.
    So, there’s a lot of hope now, and things might just take a turn for the better this time. At least I hope so. 🙂

    • Hi, thanks for your feedback and your clear and very well-explained summary of the situation. I think it is very important for people or a nation to have hope, as that energises and galvanises them. So let’s hope this is the start of something good! Cheers

  2. Pingback: German subtitles on Romanian Eurovision song and life in Germanic-Romanian ghost towns. What more could you want! | My Five Romances

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