Minority Self-Government

Minority Self-Government
   The law in Hungary provides for the establishment of local minority self-governments as a necessary precondition for the enforcement of the rights of ethnic minorities. With some funding from the central budget, these local self-governments seek to influence matters affecting minorities, particularly in the fields of education and culture. Local minority self-government elections, in conjunction with local government elections, have been held since 1994. Any of the 13 designated minorities can set up a minority self-government.
   Since ethnicity is not registered officially, voting on minority self-governments is not limited to the minorities themselves. All voters receive a minority ballot in addition to the local government ballot. Minority self-government has been criticized mainly on two grounds. First, several minority representatives have objected to the fact that members of the majority can vote for minority candidates and thus influence minority politics. Second, critics have called for an increase in the power of the minority self-governments and considerably more financial resources for them.
   There were cases of candidates who did not belong to the ethnic minority being elected to minority self-governments in the 1992 elections. In Jaszladany, the votes of members of the Hungarian majority in the Roma minority self-government elections resulted in four non-Roma being elected to the five-member body. Roma rights observers viewed this move as a deliberate attempt to undermine the local Roma community. The Ministry of Justice and the state secretary for Roma affairs criticized the election outcome, but there were no legal grounds to overturn it.
   In October 2002 there were 1,004 Roma minority self-governments elected in the local minority elections, an increase over the 770 elected self-governments in the minority elections held in 1998. Of those elected in 1998, a number of self-governments had ceased functioning due to a lack of resources, knowledge, and leadership. In contrast to other minorities, for whom the preservation of their identity and culture is the basic goal, the elected Roma representatives also have to face the task of improving the lives of their constituents with no additional financial resources.

Historical dictionary of the Gypsies . .

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