As someone who maintains a site (nearly) exclusively focusing on Romania, it’s certainly incumbent upon me to mention that 2014 is a presidential election year in this country. After two turbulent 5-year terms in office, Basescu is required by law to step down this year.
Who will replace him is anybody’s guess but yesterday I saw that Emil Boc, former Prime Minister and current mayor of Unicorn City, floated the idea of his candidacy on Facebook. Very 2014, I say. Mind you this is what Americans call a “trial balloon”, Mr. Boc using the Facebook announcement to see if enough “likes” get garnered that he will then officially declare his candidacy.
Mr. Boc is certainly a personable guy, very charming in person and far less loathsome than either his racist predecessor (G. Funar) or the idiotic and criminally corrupt Sorin Apostu. But the truth is that Cluj-Napoca is the second largest city in the country, ostensibly wealthy and situated in the beating heart of Transylvania and yet generally this city is left to decay and founder.
I took this photo myself just yesterday in Piata Unirii, the main downtown square in this city and you can above both a) a non-functioning parking meter and b) that it is marred by graffiti. Not pictured just a couple of meters away is a car illegally parked in a handicapped-designated spot. I watched with my own eyes as an able-bodied driver pulled into the spot and hopped out, having no authorization decal to allow him to park there.
The longer I live in Romania, the more strongly I believe in the broken windows theory, which essentially states that governments that permit small violations (i.e. breaking windows in abandoned buildings) leads to a wider disrespect for law and order.
It’s not exactly like Unicorn City is a hotbed of crime and chaos but despite all of Mr. Boc’s personal charm, just about everything in this city is falling apart. True, generally this slide into disrepair and neglect has a genteel and peaceful nature about it, but when one of the most capable and energetic politicians in the country (Boc) can’t even maintain basic order in the city’s central square, I sincerely doubt he’d be very effective as president.
Even if it had to be restricted to a tightly defined central zone, I truly do wonder what this city would look like if the police and other regulatory agencies “cracked down” on such small violations as illegally parked cars and graffiti’d parking meters and other such things. I wonder if buildings were not allowed to have falling bits of plaster and paint, if there weren’t broken or overstuffed garbage bins and if everything was maintained in shipshape order, whether morale would improve as well as higher forms of civic pride and responsibility, such as saying no to bribes and other forms of corruption.
In other words, if downtown Cluj looked like someone cared about it, instead of being a sloppy, muddy, rundown mess interspersed with a few nice statues and churches, would the citizens of this city start to take pride in their town? Would they then apply moral pressure on each other not to litter, not to park illegally, not to let things “go”? Would seeing a well-maintained city give people more confidence in the city administration and thus have more respect for legal and ethical behavior instead of just saying “fuck it, everyone does it” when it comes to being a scofflaw?
My guess is yes. But I have no “facts” to prove it, only my hunch. And as for the next president of Romania, whomever he (yes, he) will be, we all know he’s going to have his work cut out for him.