Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Who are Romanians and what do they believe?

"Romanians believe they show less positive personality traits than the “European person”. They even admit having outright negative traits such as being somewhat insensitive to others, leaning towards aggressiveness, and authoritarianism, behaving like followers rather than leaders, reacting tensely, walking on the thin line between honesty and dishonesty, being rather disorganized, idealistic, superficial and conservative."

This is one summary statement from the fascinating study Romanian and European values and beliefs: are they different or not ? which was published in June apparently but has only today come to my attention. (It's a pdf file and rather long at that, so be prepared for a wait).

The survey looks at the (self-perceived) differences and similarities between Romanians and Western Europeans, whether "European values" are respected in Romania, to what extent "non-European values" are accepted here, what Romania's agenda should be, and the perceptions of the EU, acession, and various public figures. It's all pretty interesting stuff.

There are some horrifying statistics contained therein - 38% of population believe that "Homosexuals are hardly better than criminals" for example, and 46% think "Superior and inferior races are a reality". Some surprising ones - 64% say that there are "Too many foreigners in the country at the expense of Romanians" (in truth this may only be surprising to someone like me who lives in a town with practically no immigrants). Some pleasantly surprising ones - only 42% think that there are "More lawbreakers among gypsies than among Romanians" (I would have expected it to be much higher), and at least one extremely misinformed one - 62% think that "Ethnic groups should be obliged to learn Romanian". (They ARE for god's sake! I live in one of the few towns where you could theoretically get by without learning Romanian, but everybody who wants to graduate from school, to obtain anything resembling a reasonable level of education or to be able to survive in the country as a whole must -and does- learn Romanian. It's stunning to me that there are people in this country who think that the ethnic minorities are swanning around NOT able to speak the national language.)

56% of the population are hopeful about EU accession with 39% worried, with the majority seeing that accession will bring short term drawbacks with long term advantages (that's pretty much my view too).

The best bit is tucked away at the end, where various "potential communicators" are ranked according to how aware the public are of them and how competent they are perceived. The two most competent are seen to be Basescu (100% awareness) and Jonathan Scheele (37% awareness), who is (as far as I know) the chief EU bod in the country. The least competent? Gigi Becali (94% awareness). Hah.

By the way, when reading through the list of traits of a Western European as compared with Romanians (by Romanians) it's fairly clear that most people interpret "Western European" to equate to "Western and Northern European", which is interesting. (Western Europeans are perceived as cold and reserved for example).

Anyway, probably very interesting reading for any Romanian readers, but not especially interesting for anybody else.


Anonymous said...

Great post. If time permits, I'll link to this.

Doug M.

Mihai said...

I've just found your blog and I must say I like it very much. It's great to see the point of view of a Szekler in Romania about Romania and everything!

I'm from Oradea, where we also have a significant proportion of Hungarians. It's true that *all* of them speak Romanian. So yeah, it's very much an unfounded concept, that mostly affects those in Bucharest or areas where there aren't that many minorities. I was also pleasantly impressed to see that during the flooding in Harghita, all the people interviewed spoke Romanian, and spoke it reasonably well. Hope all of you are all right over there in Harghita after the flooding...



Andy H said...

Thanks Mihai, much appreciated. I hope you keep coming back.

I have to disappoint you though and let you know I'm not actually a Szekler, but an Englishman who just happens to be living in Székelyföld.

Lucian said...

everybody who wants to graduate from school, to obtain anything resembling a reasonable level of education or to be able to survive in the country as a whole must -and does- learn Romanian.

I'm sorry but that is not true. For Hungarians at least.
There is the Babes-Bolyai state university in Cluj which has bilingual teaching in Romanian and Hungarian. There are also several private universities financed partly by the Hungarian government. (The political leaders of the Romanian Hungarians are now struggling for the creation of a state university exclusively Hungarian)
And, secondly, I don't know how you feel about this, but isn't it reasonable for a person who lives in Transylvania in any county that has absolute Romanian majority (i.e. everywhere except Harghita and Covasna) to know the Romanian language?

Lucian said...

correction: that university is trilingual. German added.