Participation of the Roma and Saami in public policy decision-making reveals several inherent shortcomings of current democratic decision-making institutions present in their structure, choice of political orientations and legal norms within States and at the supranational level. Furthermore, it exposes the problematic nature of sociocultural pluralism, specifically the extent to which the political decision-making process makes space for heterogeneous identities and identity-based perceptions. The legal normativity that establishes a right to participation in political decision-making for minority and indigenous peoples tends to reproduce the illusion of inclusion within democratic societies. In actuality, however, the overriding importance conferred on the interests of the dominant group confines participation by marginalised groups to the periphery of the system. With this in mind, our goal is to present a relatively precise picture of the current avenues available to the Roma and Saami for participation in public policy decisions. We begin with an overview of the existing forums for participation and then present the legal foundations of such participation, providing an assessment of the system throughout.
Since2004deputies of Roma origin have been elected to the European Parliament notably Lívia Járóka (Roma deputy of Hungary) Viktória Mohácsi (Roma deputy of Hungary) and Juan de Dios Ramirez-Heredia (Roma deputy of Spain).
Liégeoissupra note 1 pp. 219–220.
Josefsensupra note 9 pp. 18–22.
Liégeoissupra note 1 p. 224 (our translation).
Case 380 1 7 July2008Court of Cassation – Fourth Criminal Section Italy.
Act n°85 of June 172005entitled Act of 17 June 2005 No. 85 relating to legal relations and management of land and natural resources in the county of Finnmark (Finnmark Act) <www.galdu.org/govat/doc/the_finnmark_act_act_17_june_2005_no_85.pdf> visited on 11 November 2011. The Finnmark Act is a law enacted by the Norwegian Parliament on 17 June 2005 following exchanges between the national authorities the Saami Parliament of Norway and the Finnmark County Council (regional authority). It recognises the land rights of the Saami people in Finnmark and transfers their property (45000 km2) from the State to a new entity called Finnmarkseiendommen or Finnmark Estate. It is a matter of changing this territory from a national property status to a regional or local regime of property favouring proximity. The Finnmark Estate thus solely exercises decision-making in this matter. In Finnmark the State owned 95 per cent of the territory. Furthermore this county brings together the greatest number of Saami in Norway. It is therefore a rational transfer. However the Saami people are not the only ones who occupy Finnmark. A large Norwegian population also inhabits the county. Thus the role of the Finnmark Estate is to reconcile the interests of both groups in matters of territory and natural resource management. This Act allows a form of participation for members of the Saami people given that the institution which is the owner and manager of the territory the Finnmark Estate is equally composed of Norwegian and Saami representative. The Finnmark Estate acts under the Control Committee which is made up of three members. The Saami Parliament the Finnmark County Council and the King of Norway must each designate a member. As a result the Finnmark Estate cannot act contra leguem its budget is controlled and its decisions subject to public audits.