MINELRES: Hungary: Minority news, October 2006

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sat Oct 14 09:00:43 2006


Original sender: Judit Solymosi <solymosij@mail.datanet.hu>


Office for National and Ethnic Minorities
Budapest, Hungary

Selection of news on national and ethnic minorities in Hungary

October 2006


Overview of the 2006 elections of minority self-governments

The first minority self-government elections organised in conformity
with the changed electoral rules were held in Hungary on 1 October 2006.

As already mentioned in our previous issues, only those included in the
minority voters' register could participate in the elections, which
means that only registered voters could vote for, and get elected into,
minority self-governments. 

In order to inform minority voters about the amended electoral
regulations, the Office for National and Ethnic Minorities run more than
100 briefing sessions throughout Hungary and made public announcements
in the Hungarian Radio and Television, too.

During the preparatory period, in May 2006, all Hungarian citizens with
voting rights (some 8,000,000 voters) got through the post the form that
was to be used to declare one's minority affiliation for the purposes of
minority elections.

The form duly filled in had to be forwarded to the chief administrator
of the municipal government before 15 July. Roughly 200,000 voters asked
for their inclusion in the minority voters' register. This number has
proved that the pessimistic forecasts by some non-governmental sources
about people not willing to register were unfounded. 

We would like to recall here the data of the minority voters' register:


Minority        Number of voters registered 
Total                      199 806 
Bulgarian                    2 110 
Roma                       106 341 
Greek                        2 451 
Croatian                    11 090 
Polish                       3 061 
German                      45 992 
Armenian                     2 361 
Romanian                     4 404 
Ruthenian                    2 729 
Serbian                      2 143 
Slovak                      15 049 
Slovenian                      991 
Ukrainian                    1 084 

                                 
These data had already forecast that in 2006 even more minority
self-governments might be formed than in 2002, when 1843 minority
self-governments were established.

Minority civil organisations had the possibility to field minority
candidates before 8 September 2006. The candidates fielded were obliged
to declare, among others, whether they knew the language, the culture
and the traditions of the given minority community, and whether they had
already been elected earlier as representatives of another minority.
Unlike that of the registered voters, these declarations of the
candidates were made public.

The composition of the candidates according to their gender and their
age was as follows:

Age      Male     Female    Total
Total     9 523      6 667    16 190 
Over 80      15          3        18 
71-80       177         72       249 
61-70       560        365       925 
51-60     1 638      1 089     2 727 
41-50     2 520      1 645     4 165 
31-40     2 519      1 759     4 278 
26-30     1 006        783     1 789 
Under 26  1 088        951     2 039 

Candidates were fielded in 1,437 different settlements of Hungary
including the 23 districts of the capital city (in about 44% of the
total number of settlements in Hungary). The highest numbers of
settlements where minority elections were held were recorded in the
multiethnic county of Baranya (South Hungary, 197 settlements) as well
as in Borsod-Abauj-Zemplen county having a high percentage of Roma
population (North-East Hungary, 163 settlements).
 
There has been no settlement in Hungary where all the 13 minorities
would have initiated the creation of their local minority
self-government. Apart from bigger cities, the creation of only one
minority self-government in one settlement can be considered as typical.
The number of cities where five or more minorities elected their
self-governments was less than 40.

Number of settlements            Number of minorities electing
                                 their local self-government 

         2                                 12 
         4                                 11 
         7                                 10 
         7                                  9 
         1                                  8 
         4                                  7 
         4                                  6 
         7                                  5 
        18                                  4 
        49                                  3 
       204                                  2 
     1 130                                  1 


At the national level, the highest numbers of candidates were fielded by
two Roma minority organisations: the Lungo Drom National Civil
Federation for the Protection of Roma Rights (2,668 candidates) and the
National Forum of the Roma of Hungary (2,389 candidates). The Baranya
County Federation of German Self-governments and the Alliance of Croats
in Hungary fielded respectively 570 and 542 candidates, while four
Slovak organisations fielded 386 candidates each.

The minority elections held on 1 October attracted a higher percentage
of voters that the general municipal elections held on the same day.
Slovenes, Germans and Croatians proved to be the most active minority
community with respectively 75.36%, 72% and 70.49% of registered voters
taking part at the elections. At the other end of the scale we find the
Bulgarians with less than half of the registered voters attending
(47.49%). The Roma voters' participation at the elections reached
59.86%. Geographically speaking, the highest proportions were recorded
in Baranya and Vas counties (South and West Hungary, about 71%) while
the activity of the registered voters was the lowest in
Jasz-Nagykun-Szolnok county (Central Hungary, 53%). The presidents of
the national self-governments declared that they were satisfied with the
participation and stated that it gave the necessary legitimacy to the
self-governments.

The elections of a total of 2045 local minority self-governments were
effective and valid; with the following results:

Number of Bulgarian minority self-governments:  38 (2002 elections: 30) 
Number of Roma minority self-governments:    1118 (2002 elections: 999)
Number of Greek minority self-governments:      34 (2002 elections: 30)
Number of Croatian minority self-governments: 115 (2002 elections: 107)
Number of Polish minority self-governments:    47  (2002 elections: 50)
Number of German minority self-governments:   378 (2002 elections: 340)
Number of Armenian minority self-governments:  31  (2002 elections: 30)
Number of Romanian minority self-governments:  46  (2002 elections: 44)
Number of Ruthenian minority self-governments: 52  (2002 elections: 31)
Number of Serbian minority self-governments:   40  (2002 elections: 43)
Number of Slovak minority self-governments:   116 (2002 elections: 114)
Number of Slovenian minority self-governments: 11  (2002 elections: 13)
Number of Ukrainian minority self-governments: 19  (2002 elections: 12)

The above statistics show that the number of the minority
self-governments elected in 2006 is by 200 higher than the 2002 figures.
This includes 190 minority self-governments that have not been
re-elected and ceased to exist and some 400 newly initiated
self-governments. The German, Slovak, Slovenian and Croatian communities
proved particularly effective in eliminating their earlier existing
"pseudo-self-governments".

However, the amended minority-related legal provisions did not prevent
some citizens from abusing once again of the system, by having
themselves registered as minority voters or issuing untruthful
declarations as candidates. This may require the correction of the legal
regulations in the future. In some cases it also happened that even
minority civil organisations fielded non-minority candidates in order to
maximize the votes they can obtain during the election of the national
self-government next spring. (The national bodies are elected by the
members of the local minority self-governments called "electors".)

According to the opinion of the minority ombudsman and the president of
the Office for National and Ethnic Minorities, if the declarations of
the candidates are found untrue, this can be contested before the court
as electoral fraud and forgery of documents. The Ukrainian National
Self-government has already brought such a case before the court while
Romanians turned to the minority ombudsman. Ukrainian president Mrs
Jaroslava Hartyanyi thinks that about one third of the elected bodies
has nothing to do with the Ukrainian
minority.

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