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New Roma party has meagre chances

December 2nd, 2013

A left-wing daily believes the new Roma party will eat into the constituency of the opposition, while a Roma politician maintains in a pro-government weekly that the Roma should change themselves, to change their plight.

Népszabadság runs a pessimistic comment by Gábor Czene on the announcement by former Free Democrat Aladár Horváth that he will run for a seat in parliament next year on behalf of a new Roma party. The author calls the idea of a new party a ’desperate act’ in a country where the Roma feel no political force can be trusted to represent their interests. With a strong racist extreme right wing in Roma inhabited areas, there is little doubt that it is a legitimate effort, he writes, but warns that a former Roma party only attracted half a per cent of the vote at its peak. If a far better equipped organization failed, it is questionable if a new force can make it, he warns. (The leader of that party, Orbán Kolompár was sentenced to imprisonment this year for embezzling the funds of the National Roma Council in 2008.) Aladár Horváth himself, Czene adds, miserably failed in 2010, coming in last in a district with a large Roma population. The new party only contributes to the further fragmentation of the opposition, he concludes, as “Flórián Farkas (a Fidesz Roma politician, Kolompár’s successor as chairman of the Roma Council) has an iron grip over his flock”.

In Heti Válasz (print version) iconoclastic Roma activist István Forgács argues that liberal clichés accusing the majority population of racism and of exclusive responsibility for the plight of the Roma are bound to backfire. As a former employee of the Soros Foundation he says he owes much to his former liberal milieu, yet “they cannot adapt to the changes in the real world” and have alienated many potential supporters from the Roma cause. “In some areas the usurers are Roma and our despondency is increased by inept Roma leaders” – he claims. It should not be taboo to talk about the Roma in prison or ask “if having eight children in abject poverty is a human right and if their children would do better in special schools for talented children of Gypsy families”. Forgács believes that a mere 70 or 80 billion forints “could do wonders”, with a strong government-appointed Roma leader who “also has the support of the majority”. When asked by Heti Válasz if he thinks of himself as the right man for the job – Forgács replies that not much will happen until after the next elections’ but he does believe the government is listening.

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