null Message of the Minority Ombudsman on the first phase of setting up nationality lists

Since the beginning of my mandate as Minority Ombudsman, I have paid special attention to the local and national electoral procedures affecting the thirteen nationality communities in Hungary. As in previous years, I have focused particular attention to the 2022 parliamentary elections, including the first stage of the list-setting process, which closed on 31 January.

The Fundamental Law ensures the participation of the nationalities living in Hungary in the work of the National Assembly. According to the relevant cardinal Acts of Parliament, each nationality self-government may set up its own nationality list not later than twenty calendar days after the date of the general election of Members of Parliament is announced. It should be stressed, however, that in addition to the provisions laying down the guarantee elements for the establishment of nationality lists, each nationality self-government shall itself lay down the rules of procedure for the selection of candidates and the compilation of the list in its own internal regulations.

As Minority Ombudsman, I am neither a participant in the electoral process nor a forum for redress. However, in line with my duties and responsibilities, I have been in contact with the elected representatives of nationality communities in recent months and have held professional consultations with election experts. My experience has shown that there are no critical problems with the knowledge of the relevant legislation and its practical application in the case of most nationality communities. However, on several occasions, I have observed some situations of rivalry within some national communities, which have been resolved in almost all cases through democratic debate and consensus-building. It can be noted that, after the deadline, twelve nationality self-governments have their General Assembly decisions on their own nationality lists.

I was shocked and regretful to learn that the General Assembly of the National Roma Self-Government, after its first decision on the list in early November 2021, was unable to establish a nationality list at the end of a protracted process, not free of legal interpretation disputes and personal conflicts. Thus, the Roma community's special opportunity to participate in the work of the National Assembly to be formed in the spring of 2022, as guaranteed by the Fundamental Law, became frustrated.

The failure to establish a Roma nationality list and the undignified situation that has developed around it are a warning and a sign that calls for introspection. It should encourage the Roma community, Roma and non-Roma political leaders and decision-makers to assess the precedents, the consequences and the overall social impact.

As Minority Ombudsman, I will follow the further stages of the nationality parliamentary elections and the related social and professional discourse with particular attention.

Budapest, 3 February, 2022.

                                                                                         Prof. Elisabeth Sándor-Szalay

                                                                                           Minority Ombudsman