Western Romanian city has German mayor and Spanish council member

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While Romanian politics remains marred by recurring conflicts between its majority Romanian and minority ethnic Hungarian population, the western city of Timișoara (Temesvár in Hungarian), the birthplace of the 1989 anti-Communist uprising that toppled dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu is once again setting an example: the recent municipal elections there not only brought a German national to the helm of the city, but it also has a Spanish council member.

As Remix News has reported earlier, the municipal elections in the country, which brought major victories for the center-right alliance of the political parties Save Romania Union (USR) and the Freedom, Unity and Solidarity Party (PLUS) also resulted in the victory of Dominic Fritz, a German national with no Romanian relatives or roots in the city, who beat two-times mayor and local football club owner Nicolae Robu.

Fritz first came to the city in 2003, fell in love with it and later moved there, giving up a promising career in German politics (he was as chief of staff for former German President Horst Köhler between 2015 and 2019).

But as the final count of the election results was completed and fractional votes redistributed, it also emerged that Spanish national Jorge Gonzales (54) also made it into the city council. Gonzales, a Spanish language teacher at the local Calderon secondary school, was born in Madrid and after a spell of a few years teaching Spanish in Tokyo, he moved and settled in Temesvár, where for a time he was also a Spanish teacher at the local Western University.

After a brief detour to Kolozsvár (Cluj in Romanian), he returned to Temesvár in 2000 and has been a resident ever since. Since 2015, any European Union citizen is allowed to run for local administration positions in any other member state.

Temesvár, with a population of 332,000, according to a 2016 estimate, has several minorities that have settled in the city formerly part of the Hungarian Empire over the centuries: Hungarians, Germans, Serbs, Roma, Ukrainians, Slovaks, and Jews. 

Title image: Downtown Temesvár/Timișoara. (by Dénes Albert)

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