Roma as Game Changers
By John Feffer
In Bulgaria, the political system has been roughly balanced between the Left and the Right for the last two decades. As a result, the party that represents ethnic Turkish interests – the Movement for Rights and Freedom (MRF) – can provide its constituency base, which is only about 10 percent of the population, with the benefits of the party’s kingmaker position.
Similarly, the Roma are a significant minority of the population in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, and the countries of former Yugoslavia. Depending on the political balance of power in the country, Roma could achieve the same kind of success as the MRF if they consolidated their voting strength behind one party. Then the politicians in other parties would ignore Roma issues at their own political peril.
“Serbia has a system that allows minorities to participate with lower thresholds than others,” Roma activist and Open Society Foundation staffer Zeljko Jovanovic told me in an interview in Budapest last May. We’d met the day before at an OSF roundtable on Roma policy. “Roma can have three or four MPs. Nowadays, when the Left and Right are so close to each other in terms of votes, Roma can be the game changers in Serbia.”
Jovanovic, who is originally from Serbia, is not focused on party politics as the primary strategy for the advancement of Roma rights. The strategies depend on the political and social context in each country, and Serbian electoral rules favor minorities. More critical is organizing a constituency.
Read more on http://www.johnfeffer.com/roma-as-game-changers/?fb_action_ids=10201832034303327&fb_action_types=og.likesRoma as Game Changers
In Bulgaria, the political system has been roughly balanced between the Left and the Right for the last two decades. As a result, the party that represents ethnic Turkish interests – the Movement f...