CEES Seminar - Dr. Balázs Dobos, Institute for Minority Studies, Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Boyd Orr Building, Glasgow G12 8QR, UK
Central & East European Studies Events
The Internal Dynamics of Non-Territorial Autonomy Regimes in Central and South-Eastern Europe: a Five-Country Comparison
Venue: Boyd Orr, Room: 513
Speaker: Dr. Balázs Dobos, Institute for Minority Studies, Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
In managing ethno-cultural diversity, some of the Central and South East European countries, namely Estonia, Hungary, and some of the former Yugoslav republics - Croatia, Serbia, and Slovenia - represent a model by which registered minority voters are granted the right to create non-territorial autonomous arrangements (or combined with certain territorial elements) by direct or indirect elections. The few findings that have been published regarding the non-territorial model underscore the controversy between the continued dominance of the nation-state model, the large extension of state control on minority issues and interethnic relations, and all those positive expectations that led to the spread of various NTA regimes in the region. Thus, they suggest that these institutional examples were more likely created top-down in favour of imposing symbolic and apolitical, such as educational and cultural issues on minority groups, thereby preventing and neutralizing any potential territorial claims. This may be especially true for Roma, one of the largest ethnic groups in the region, especially if less effort is put in improving their socio-economic inclusion. Yet surprisingly little research has been devoted to assessing the extent to which these regimes meet minority demands, the findings by pointing out how the implementation and practice as well as the competences of these NTA organizations vary by state, emphasize also the need to support bottom-up activities and to strengthen democratic accountability and effective representation – such changes can be described as a shift to governance, too. From the above they argue that there needs to be a closer look on practices, and that more research has to be done to explore how both minority members and minority representatives perceive and use their own, above described, autonomy organizations in everyday reality, as well as how they view themselves, their identities and their role within the organizations, particularly in the context of the unfinished nation- and state-building processes. This argumentation gives prominence to minority elections as a potential tool to identify and critically assess the intra-group dynamics. To address the issues above, the presentation, from a theoretical perspective but based on electoral statistics and country experiences, aims to provide insight into the research questions and methods of the ongoing postdoc project, to contribute to the better understanding of the role of elections in minority contexts, and seeks to explore, in a comparative manner, the main questions of the NTA elections in the five countries concerned, and whether they can be considered as successful forms of diversity management.