Roma Exclusion: A European Democratic Deficit

February 03, 2016
03:00 pm - 04:30 pm


Gabor Demszky, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow

with comments by

Nadezhda Mouzykina, National Democratic Institute

moderated by

Marc F. Plattner, National Endowment for Democracy

1025 F Street, N.W., Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20004

About the Event

The Roma are a minority group highly concentrated in East-Central Europe, where they are over-represented among the poor. Possessing lower than average incomes and life expectancies, most Roma live in extreme poverty, trapped at the bottom of a social hierarchy as an underclass. They have been denied basic human rights, treated as second-class citizens, and often become the targets of organized racist violence. As such, it is no surprise that the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, and the World Bank have all shifted Roma issues to the top of their agendas. Gabor Demszky, former Lord Mayor of Budapest, explained how the decentralization that followed the transition to democracy in East-Central Europe provides an opportunity to make progress towards Roma integration through local governance. Comments by Nadezhda Mouzykina of the National Democratic Institute followed.

About the Speakers

Dr. Gábor Demszky is a sociologist who has dedicated much of his academic and political career to the plight of the Roma minority in Hungary. After his research license was suspended by the communist authorities in the 1980s for signing Charter 77, he continued his dissident writings through the publication of samizdat, founded an underground publishing house, and along with other sociologists created SZETA (Foundation for Supporting the Poor), Hungary’s first independent organization. He is a founder of the Alliance of Free Democrats–Hungarian Liberal Party (SZDSZ), who was elected to parliament in the elections of 1990 and went on to become chairman of the National Security Committee. From 1990 to 2010, he served as Lord Mayor of Budapest, and in 2004 he was elected as a member of the European Parliament. After retiring from politics, he returned to sociology and has spent time at the Woodrow Wilson Center, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, and the Wissenschaftkolleg zu Berlin. During his fellowship, Dr. Demszky is comparing U.S. and European experiences with minority integration, with the goal of producing a set of recommendations for the social inclusion and political participation of Europe’s Roma communities.

Nadezhda Mouzykina is a Senior Program Manager at the National Democratic Institute.


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