Center for Fundamental Rights

National minorities can gain noteworthy representation in Parliament

The new election regulations adopted in late 2011 introduced rules on the parliamentary representation of national minorities in Hungary. Although none of the minorities were able to gain sufficient votes for a preferential mandate, all of the thirteen recognized minority groups of Hungary can now delegate their ‘national minority spokesperson’ to the new Parliament. The Centre for Fundamental Rights assessed the relevant regulations and established that while a ‘national minority spokesperson’ have limited competencies in comparison to that of the MPs, they can still play an important role in the course of the legislative process as a result of the competencies vested in the parliamentary committee of national minorities. This is due to the fact that such committee shall propose bills in the same manner as other parliamentary committees, although only related to minority issues. While the legal practice has yet to be elaborated as regards the scope of ‘minority issues’ (there has been no expressed definition of such matters in applicable laws), this may actually also provide the spokesperson with the opportunity to protect their interests. That is, they will have the possibility to broaden their scope of competences and possibilities in the course of their operations.