Hungarian Parliament rejects bill on minority representatives
15 May 1998
On March 16, following intense eleventh hour debate, the Hungarian parliament failed to pass a bill which would have provided one seat to each of the thirteen recognised minorities in Hungary, including Roma. The bill had been the subject of discussion both in parliament and the government since December 1997. The bill was rejected primarily by abstentions, including many from coalition partner Union of Free Democrats. Many parliamentarians did not wish to seem „anti-minority", but were unwilling to support a bill which would have provided thirteen seats to representative of entities whose funding is heavily dependent on the government; Hungary's minorities are provided with extensive subsidies from a state fund. Many observers commented that the impetus for minority representation in parliament came primarily from the government and less from the minorities themselves. Hungary's minority politics are often motivated by a desire to present a positive face to the international community in order to compare favourably with neighbouring Romania and Slovakia, where there are large Hungarian minorities.