Roma Politics and Policy in Hungary 1999-2003

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  • 1 Dr. Martin Kovats has been researching the development of Roma politics in Hungary since 1993. He is currently Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Budapest University of Economic Sciences and Public Administration, Hungary.

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  • 1 `Roma' is the term increasingly used to replace the traditional collective designation 'Gypsy'. In Hungary today 'Roma' and 'Gypsy' (cigdny) are interchangeable. The subject of this article is a political phenomenon and its related discourse and it uses both the terms 'Gypsy' and 'Roma'. The use of the term'Roma' in this article should not be taken as an endorsement of the view that `Roma' constitute a single and distinct ethnic group (either in Hungary or internationally) nor of an ethnic-based nationalism.The use of the term 'Roma or Gypsy people' to emphasize the humanity rather than solely the supposed ethnicity of those to whom Roma/Gypsy identity is applied. 2 Hungarian Socialist Party (MSP), Alliance of Free Democrats (SDS).

  • 3 Martin Kovats, 'Hungary: Politics, Difference and Equality', in Will Guy (ed.), Between Past and Future - tbe Roma of Central and Eastern Europe (Hatfield, 2001), 333-50.

  • 4 For the full text of the 1961 decree (in Hungarian) see B. Mezey, A magyarorszkgi cigdnykerdes dokumentu- mokbam 1422-1985 (Budapest, 1986), 240-42. 5 G. Havas, G. Kertesi and 1. Kemeny, "The Statistics of Deprivation', 36 (Summer) The Hungarian Quarterly (1995), 63-85.

  • 6 The full text (in Hungarian) of Janos Bathory's analysis 'The Aspiration for National Unity and the Gypsy Ethnic Movement' can be found in Phralipe IV, nos 7-9,1995,104-7. Between 1990 and 1994, Bathory was deputy president of the Office for National and Ethnic Minorities. In 2000, he was appointed its president. 7 One of only five to vote against the Minorities Law was the then Alliance of Free Democrats member of parliament, Aladar Horvath. The Minorities Law uses the term cigdny (Gypsy).

  • 8 Government Resolution 1125/1995 (XIL12). 9 Government Resolution 1093/1997 (VI.29). 10 For a review of the activities of the first NGMS-G, see Martin Kovats, 'The Political Significance of the First National Gypsy Minority Self-Government', (1) yoMf?M/ on Ethrtopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe, at http://www.ecmi.de/jemie/download/Foeusll-200/Kovats.pdf (Autumn 2001).

  • 11 In 1994, 434 local Gypsy minority self-governments were elected; in 1998, the figure rose to 816. 12 Due to lack of resources and to inexperience, combined with the limited authority of self-governments and inconsistencies between the Minorities Law and other legislation, most Gypsy self-governments experienced considerable difficulties in simply functioning, let alone achieving desired results. In addition, the self-government system is not designed to address the welfare-related problems that most Gypsy self governments have to deal with and the self-governments are largely dependent on the good will of local officials, which is not always forthcoming. Problems in making contact with the huge number of self-gov- ernments and in acquiring reliable data as to their activities, means that research into the operation of the system is far from comprehensive. The most extensive survey was carried out by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences at the end of the first self-government cycle in 1998 and published in F Csefko and I. Pal Kovacs, Kisebbsegi Önkormanánywtok Magza�orszdgan, (Budapest, 1999). 13 Jelentes az Orszagos Cigany Onkormanyzat penzugyi-gazdasagi tevekenysege utovizsgalatanak ellenorzesi tapasztalatairol (AIIami Szamvevoszek, 2000).

  • 14 'Vizsgilat az OCO-n6l',Amaro Drom (March, 2001), 6-7. 15 Ibid. 16 Personal communication.

  • 17 T Doncsev, Measures taken by the state to promote the social integration of Roma living in Hungary, Mien- istry of Foreign Affairs (Budapest, 2000),18. 18 A miniszterelnok leszamolt az illuzidkkaf, Lungo Drom, ( July 1999), 4-5. 19 In his review of government Roma policy for the World Bank, Janos Zolnay calculated that only around two thirds of the HUF 7.2bn (EUR 28m) claimed by the government in 2000 actually went to Roma proj- ects and that in relation to need, the amounts allocated for Roma in state budgets were a'pittance'. J. Zolnav, `Ciganyugyi szammisztika', Beszelo (September, 2001), 52-64.

  • 20 For a full list of Roma-related government activities, see Ministry of Justice, Kormknybeszkmolo a Magyar Koztdrsasdg teruleten elo nemzeti es etnikai kisebbsegekrdl (October, 2001). 21 Phare is one of the EU's pre-accession instruments for countries of Central Europe; for more information, see http://europa.eu.int/comm/enlargement/pas/phare/#what. 22 D. Rosenberg, 'Final report on a long-term strategy for the Roma of Hungary', Council of Europe (CoE) MG-S-ROM (2000), 10 Lungo Drom (December, 1999), 6. 23 The full text of the draft long-term Roma strategy can be found (in Hungarian) in a special edition of Kisebbsegi Hiradd, produced by the ICGA or in the NGS-G's journal Vildgunh (October-November, 2001), 22-49. 24 Lungo Drom (March, 2001), 4-5.

  • 25 Florian Farkas' speech given to the preelection congress of the Young Democrats (Fidesz), Lungo Drom (March, 2002), 8-9. 26 Two Roma were elected in 1990 (see above) with a third coopted (by the HSP) in 1992. After the 1994 elec- tion only one Roma sat in Parliament (Antonia Haga) and there were none following elections in 1998. 27 It is highly improbable that a Roma political party could attract sufficient and concentrated support to win a seat in parliament. At the general election in 2002, the only Roma organization to run a county list, the Hungarian Roma Party, polled only 746 votes (0.26%) (in Szabolcs-Szatmar-Bereg county ).

  • 28 Lungo Drom (March, 2002), 6-7. 29 J. Ladanyi,'Baloldali hatranyok es el6nyble,N�pszabadsdg, 8 October 2001. 30 Tibor Benga Olah also ran on the HSP national list, but did not secure a mandate.

  • 31 Over 90% of candidates in local government elections in Hungary run as independents with parties for- mally sponsoring candidates only in larger towns and at the county level. 32 1. Riba, `Balkanyar', HYG (18 January 2002), 83-7.

  • 33 'Magyarorszag Nemzeti Fejlesztesi Terve 2004-2006', Office of the NDP and EU Support-Prime Minis- ter's Office (19 September 2002), 11. 34 A felzarkoztatas nem tarthat nyolc evig', Nepsxabadsag (5 August 2002), 7.

  • 35 United Nations Development Programme,'tlvoiding the Dependency Trap' (Bratislava, 2003), 32. 36 T. Kolosi, I. Toth and Gy. Vukovich (eds.), T6rsadalmi Riport 2002 (Tarki and Budapest, 2002), 49.

  • 37 L. Puporka and Zs. Zadori, The Healtb Status ofRoma in Hungary (Roma Press Centre, Budapest), 1998. 38 Delphoi Consulting, Borsod-Abauj-Zemplen megye roma nepessege - szocialis gazdasagi tenyezok, egesz- segugyi allapot (Budapest, 2002). 39 Bela Berkes, 'Luxusgettok, putrisok helyett?', Nepszabadsag (5 June 2001).

  • 40 G. Havas,'The School as Break-out Point', in E. Kallai (ed.), The Gypsies/Ibe Roma in Hungarian Society (Budapest, 2002), 79-106, at 83.

  • 41 Office of the Ombudman for Minority Rights, A kisebbsegi Ombudsman jelentese a kisebbsdgek oktatdsdnak d6Cogd vizsgálatáról (Budapest, 1998), 46-7. 42 2000 evi LXII torveny a szomszedos allamokban elo magyarokró1.

  • 43 'Roma-stiruskedvezm6nvek?', Nepszabadsdg (25 ^ larch 2002). 44 'Hungarian Premier Explains Vision of Europe of Communities', BBC.1lnit,��ng (5 September 2001). 45 fl bossu tbvri roma tdrsadalom-es kisebbsegfolitikai strategiai irbnyelvei (Vilagiink, October-November 2001), 22-49, at 27. 46 Kovats, 'The Emergence of European Roma Policy', in Guy (ed.), Between Past and Suture..., 93-116. 47 Guy,'Romani Identity and Post-communist Policv', in Guy (ed.), Between Past and Future ..., 3-32, at 13.

  • 48 'Initiative to Set Up a European Forum for the Roma', speech given by the Finnish Ambassador to Hungary, Mr. Pekka Kujaslo, at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Budapest (10 November 2002) (unpuhlished). 49 'Legal situation of the Roma in Europe', Report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, CoE Parliamentary Assembly Doc 9397 (19 April 2002).

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