Power still a male sport
Romania’s current administration has an absence of credibility regarding women in politics. At present, the Government contains no female Ministers, while the President is happy to speak to a female journalist using derogatory sexual remarks. The executive also contains a Minister of Transport who has implied that some of the country’s most senior women politicians assumed their positions of high office not through merit, but sex with male superiors.
Only 11 per cent of members of Parliament are female, and only four per cent of city mayors. This is low for an EU country – but not for an eastern European nation. Without policy change to favour positive discrimination or the emergence of a new class of women who will fund their own campaigns, a balanced gender representation in office remains a distant hope.
Price hikes on land and property in Bucharest are driving many investors with good intentions for the future of the city away. Instead, the ridiculously high costs of sale and rent will only attract a class of the stupidly rich, the naive or the criminal.
Now the city is on the cusp of entering a golden age. It is witnessing high employment, rising wages and is reaching three million people – becoming the largest east European city in the EU. Yet, its management is unclear and its atmosphere unappealing.
Property costs in Bucharest are beginning to resemble Paris, Berlin or Barcelona, while the city has only a fraction of the attraction that draw visitors to these locations and a disastrous comparable level in quality of life, especially in health, education and childcare.
In the capital, small entrepreneurs are forced out of this economic miracle. Many white-collar businesses cannot afford the high rents and must conduct work from their own apartments. Meanwhile, some of Bucharest’s best loved restaurants, bars and clubs, usually run by well-meaning individuals, who are not purely profit-centred, are closing. Such a continuing trend will undermine the character of the city. The danger is that Bucharest turns into a giant replica of a suburban new town, with vast areas of glass office blocks, flats and houses, big box retail and shopping centres, indifferent from joyless corners of Europe and America. One of Bucharest’s biggest enemies today is dullness.
But what is wrong with boring? With the population having suffered nearly 70 years of meddling from uneven leadership, the nation may need an unexciting period of realignment.
Although statistics are difficult to quantify, it seems fewer foreign tourists are coming to Romania and they are spending less money when here. While the Czech Republic boasts around 25 million tourists a year, Romania’s figure is probably under three million. Romania also has fewer foreigners staying overnight in hotels than Slovakia and Slovenia, a country with only nine per cent of the population of Romania.
To curb this disaster, Summer brings another bizarre campaign for the promotion of Romania. Visitors waiting for their baggage at Henri Coanda airport are greeted with a TV commercial showing images of monasteries, folk dancers and skiers, followed by a tagline that tells them that the best idea may be to push off.
‘Romania,’ it reads, ‘why waste time anywhere else?’
Fools! Is one implied message to foreigners. Turn back! Don’t bother coming to Romania! It is a waste of time!
This nation will spend about 30 million Euro from structural funds to produce the ‘Tourism Romania’ brand next year. We can only hope that at least a few rays of enlightenment fall on this initiative because Romanian tourism is fast-becoming one of the biggest jokes in the EU.