Klaus Iohannis

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Klaus Werner Johannis
Mayor of Sibiu
Assumed office
June 2000
Preceded by Dan Condurat
President of the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania
In office
Preceded by Wolfgang Wittstock
Succeeded by TBD
Personal details
Born (1959-06-13) June 13, 1959 (age 55)
Sibiu, Romania
Nationality Romanian (Transylvanian Saxon)
Political party National Liberal Party (2013–present)
Other political
Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania
Spouse(s) Carmen Johannis
Alma mater Babeș-Bolyai University
Religion Lutheran
Website http://www.klausjohannis.ro/

Klaus Werner Iohannis (also spelled Johannis; born June 13, 1959, in Sibiu) is a Romanian politician of German origin. Since 2000 he has served as mayor of the Romanian city of Sibiu, representing the small centrist Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania. He has been re-elected by landslide votes in 2004 and 2008. Iohannis is widely credited with turning his city into one of Romania's most popular tourist destinations, and the city was declared as European Capital of Culture in 2007. In February 2013, Iohannis became a member of the PNL, accepting the invitation from Liberal leader Crin Antonescu, and was immediately elected as the party's First Vice President.

In October 2009, four of the five political groups in the Parliament (except the Democrat Liberal Party (PDL)) proposed him as candidate for the office of Prime Minister of Romania; however, President Traian Băsescu refused to nominate him. Băsescu instead designated the independent Lucian Croitoru. The opposition, which has a majority in the Parliament, continued to support Iohannis as Prime Minister, and on October 21, the Parliament adopted a declaration asking for Croitoru's withdrawal and vowing support for Iohannis.[1] Croitoru subsequently lost the confirmation in the parliament, and Băsescu then designated Liviu Negoiță (PDL), who failed to receive a parliamentary vote.[2] After the first round of 2009 Romanian Presidential elections, the National Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party signed a political agreement, which in particular mentioned continued support for Iohannis as their candidate for Prime Minister if Social Democrat Mircea Geoana wins the second round. This was also supported by the political group of national minorities in Romania’s Parliament.[3]

Iohannis is a Transylvanian Saxon by ethnicity, and as such a member of the oldest of the groups among Romania's German minority, which settled in Transylvania (then part of the historic Kingdom of Hungary) in the 12th century. He is a physics teacher by professional background.

Personal and professional life[edit]

After graduating from the Faculty of Physics of the Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj in 1983, Iohannis worked as a high school teacher of physics at various schools and colleges in Sibiu, including from 1989 to 1997 at the Samuel von Brukenthal Gymnasium in Sibiu, the oldest German-speaking school in Romania. From 1997 to 1999, he was Deputy General School Inspector of the Sibiu County, and from 1999 until his election as Mayor in 2000, he was General School Inspector, being the head of public schools in the County.

Iohannis is fluent in Romanian (at native level), German (native) and English. The original spelling of his name (which is a German name) is Johannis, but in Romanian, often the spelling Iohannis is used. Klaus Johannis uses both spellings himself. He is married, since 1989, to Carmen Johannis, an English teacher at the Gheorghe Lazăr National College in Sibiu,[4][5] and has no children. His parents, Susanne and Gustav Heinz Johannis, both Transylvanian Saxons, emigrated from their native Sibiu (German: Hermannstadt) to Würzburg in Germany in 1992, acquiring citizenship under the German Law of Return,[6][7] like many other Transylvanian Saxons did after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

He is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Augsburg Confession in Romania, the Lutheran German-speaking church in Transylvania.

Political career[edit]

He joined the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania in 1990, and served as a member of its board of education in Transylvania from 1997, and a member of the local party board in Sibiu from 1998. In 2001, he was elected President of the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania.

Mayor of Sibiu[edit]

In 2000, the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania (FDGR) in Sibiu decided to run him as a candidate for mayor. Despite the fact that Sibiu's German minority had shrunken to a mere 1.6%, Iohannis was elected with 69.18% of the votes and has won two re-elections in a row, obtaining some of the largest electoral scores in the country: 88.7% of the vote in 2004, and 87.4% in 2008 re-elections. He is the first ethnic German mayor of a Romanian city since Alfred Dörr, who served from 1940 to 1945. The small German minority is popular in Romania, where they are often viewed as hard-working, precise and uncompromising. Many Romanians also remember that the country experienced some of its best moments under German kings over a century ago.[7]

Throughout his tenure as mayor, he has managed to jump start the restoration of the town's infrastructure, the restoration of its historic center, and a tightening of the city administration. Iohannis is also widely credited with turning the city into one of Romania's most popular tourist destinations thanks to the extensive renovation of the old downtown.[8] During his first term, Iohannis worked with a city council that had a social democrat majority.[citation needed] Since 2004, during his second and third terms, his own party, FDGR, has the majority. Since 2008, FDGR has 14 out of 23 councilors, PDL has 4, PSD has 3, and PNL has 2.[9]

Iohannis established contacts with foreign officials and investors. Sibiu was declared European Capital of Culture of 2007, together with Luxembourg (the bearer of the distinction in 1995). Luxembourg chose to share this honourable status with Sibiu due to the fact that many of the Transylvanian Saxons emigrated in the 12th century to Transylvania from the area where Luxembourg is today.[10] Sibiu, or Hermannstadt in German, was built by the Transylvanian Saxons, was for many centuries the cultural centre of that group, and was a predominantly German-speaking city until the mid 20th century. Many Germans have left the city after World War II, and especially in 1990, within months of the fall of the Iron Curtain.

On November 4, 2005, Iohannis was nominated as the "Personality of the Year for a European Romania" (Personalitatea anului pentru o Românie europeană) by the Eurolink – House of Europe organization.

Candidate for Prime Minister of Romania[edit]

On October 14, 2009, the leaders of the opposition parliamentary groups (the National Liberal Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania, and the group of smaller ethnic minorities), proposed Iohannis as a candidate for Prime Minister of Romania, after the government of Prime Minister Emil Boc fell a day before as a result of a motion of no confidence in the Parliament. Coming from outside the national-level politics of Romania, Iohannis has the image of an independent politician,[11] although his party has consistently allied itself with, and Iohannis has campaigned in the latest European Parliament elections for the National Liberal Party. The National Liberal Party (PNL), the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR), and the group of small ethnic minorities in the Parliament subsumed Iohannis as their common candidate for Prime Minister of an interim government.[12] On October 14, Klaus Iohannis confirmed acceptance of his candidacy. However, on October 15, the President Traian Băsescu nominated Lucian Croitoru, a top Romanian economist, as Prime Minister, and charged the latter with forming the country's next government.

After the second round of talks, a day before Croitoru's nomination, Băsescu noted: "Some parties have proposed Klaus Iohannis. I would like you to know that I have not rejected the possibility for him to become Prime Minister in the condition that my options would be directed towards other [national unity government] solutions. But I have rejected such a proposal because it comes from PSD or another party [PNL]", referring to his alleged constraint to consider a proposal of the largest party (PDL), constraint disputed by the other parties.[13][14] The opposition criticized the President for not designating Iohannis. Social Democrat leader Mircea Geoana accused Băsescu that he tries to influence the upcoming presidential elections by having them organized by a sympathetic government.[15][16] Crin Antonescu, the leader of the National Liberals vowed his party would derail other nominations but Iohannis'.[15] After the nomination of Croitoru, Antonescu, a candidate in the presidential election, stated that he would nominate Iohannis as Prime Minister if elected President.[17] Three days later, on October 18, Geoană suggested Antonescu was trying to use Iohannis as an "electoral agent" for Antonescu's bid for president. In response, Antonescu told the press that Iohannis "is not the type of person that would let himself being used".[18] Geoană and PSD leadership has held a second meeting with Iohannis in Bucharest in the evening of October 18. UDMR, which the previous day announced it would also attend, declared in the morning that all their leaders are not in the city. PNL was present at the meeting by lower level representatives, after Antonescu announced in the morning he is on campaign in Cluj.[19] On October 21, the Parliament adopted with 252 votes for (of PSD, PNL, UDMR and minorities groups) and 2 against a declaration requesting the President to nominate Iohannis as Prime Minister.[20][21]

Possible future candidate for President of Romania[edit]

Iohannis stated in 2009 that it is possible he may in the future run for the office of President of Romania, although not in 2009.[22] Former Prime Minister Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu said on October 27, 2009 and again on April 23, 2010 that he would like to see Iohannis become President of Romania.[23]

In National Liberal Party[edit]

On February 20, 2013, Klaus Iohannis joined the PNL, announcing this during a press conference with Crin Antonescu. At a PNL extraordinary congress, he was elected First Vice President of the Party. On June 28, 2014, he was elected President of the PNL.


External links[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.euronews.net/2009/10/21/romanian-opposition-demands-new-pm/
  2. ^ (Romanian)"Liviu Negoita si-a depus mandatul de premier". www.ziare.ro. December 16, 2009. Retrieved 2011-07-19. 
  3. ^ http://www.financiarul.ro/2009/11/30/national-minorities-in-romanias-parliament-support-mircea-geoanas-candidacy-for-runoff-presidential-election/
  4. ^ http://www.evz.ro/articole/detalii-articol/871880/Carmen-Johannis-sfetnicul-din-umbra/
  5. ^ http://www.realitatea.net/klaus-johannis-spune-ca-a-votat-pentru-normalitate_687833.html
  6. ^ Die Lokomotive von Hermannstadt, interview with Gustav Heinz Johannis, in: Monatsgruß (monthly magazine of the Evangelical-Lutheran dean of Würzburg), October 2007, p. 5.
  7. ^ a b Grim Romanians Brighten Over a German Connection. New York Times 2009-12-06.
  8. ^ The Himalayan Times, 2009-10-14: Romanian prez proposes unity govt. Retrieved 2009-10-15.
  9. ^ (Romanian) Sibiu City Council composition at Sibiu's Local Administration's webpage. Retrieved 2009-10-16.
  10. ^ Sibiu – Hermannstadt: European Capital of Culture 2007. Retrieved 2009-10-15.
  11. ^ "Democratic Liberals submit their own nomination for prime minister. Other parties keep supporting their own nomination", Hotnews.ro, October 15, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-16.
  12. ^ (Romanian) Mircea Geoană, Crin Antonescu, Bela Marko, Varujan Pambuccian, Daniela Popa, Open letter to Traian Băsescu. Retrieved 2009-10-15.
  13. ^ (Romanian) "Băsescu spune ca n-are nimic cu Iohannis dar România are nevoie de un premier cu experiență în economie" ("Băsescu Says He Has Nothing against Iohannis but that Romania Needs a Prime Minister with Economic Experience"), Ziarul Financiar, October 14, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-16
  14. ^ (Romanian) PNL, PSD si UDMR l-au "desemnat" pe Johannis premier, desi neamtul nu e pe gustul lui Basescu, Ziarul Financiar, October 15, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-21
  15. ^ a b "Romanian President names prime minister designate, opposition seething", The Sofia Echo, October 15, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-16.
  16. ^ "Geoana-Basescu cam put an end on Wednesday to political crisis", Financiarul.ro, October 15, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-16.
  17. ^ "Johannis ready to head national union gov’t", Financiarul.ro, October 15, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-16.
  18. ^ "Geoană și Antonescu își dispută "agentul electoral" Johannis", Evenimentul Zilei, October 18, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-18.
  19. ^ "UDMR nu participa la intalnirea de duminica seara cu Klaus Johannis", Hotnews.ro, October 18, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-18.
  20. ^ Johannis, „validat premier” în parlament, Evenimentul Zilei, October 21. Retrieved 2009-10-21
  21. ^ "Parlamentarii au adoptat declarația de susținere a lui Klaus Iohannis la funcția de premier", Cotidianul, October 21, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-22
  22. ^ http://www.administratie.ro/articol.php?id=28193
  23. ^ http://www.libertatea.ro/stire/tariceanu-il-vad-pe-iohannis-fie-premier-fie-presedinte-262122.html
  24. ^ Klaus Johannis a fost decorat cu Ordinul Național Steaua României
  25. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (pdf) (in German). p. 1922. Retrieved November 2012. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Dan Condurat
Mayor of Sibiu
Party political offices
Preceded by
Wolfgang Wittstock
President of the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Ludovic Orban
Prime-vice-president of National Liberal Party