Cover Osteuropa 6-8/2019

In Osteuropa 6-8/2019

The art of sarcastic realism
Notes on political jokes in Romania

Armin Heinen

Deutsche Fassung


Political jokes are offensive, break taboos and go beyond the limits of what people are permitted to say. Political jokes are a reflection of political culture, of those in power and the society of a country. In Romania, jokes made it easier for people to resist the excessive and unreasonable demands made by the dictatorship. However, the functions and consequences of this culture of the joke are ambivalent in nature. In a way, it makes the transition to democracy more difficult. The more recent Romanian political jokes define the deficits of the present as unchangeable national character traits. In so doing, they undermine trust in the ability of the country to change among both those who tell the jokes and their audience. This also applies to rebellion against the government in the form of major demonstrations since 2012. While they put pressure on the political class, moral outrage dominates over the search for political alternatives.

(Osteuropa 6-8/2019, pp. 272–290)