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Romani Mobilization Barany - chapter 6 November 2, 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Romani Mobilization Barany - chapter 6 November 2, 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Romani Mobilization Barany - chapter 6 November 2, 2009

2 This chapter discusses the issues confronting the Roma since the regime change from socialism to democracy.

3 Weakness of Romani Identity Little mobilization experience State restrained Romani mobilization until 1989 Causes for Roma’s poor performance in political arena – Socioeconomic problems (low education level, poverty, lack of ethnic solidarity) – Organizations – Leadership – Financial resources

4 Weak Romani identity is a key reason for the lack of mobilization. – Many Gypsies refuse to identify themselves with their ethnic background – Most educated Romani want nothing to do with their “Gypsiness” Try to marry non-Roma Hide Romani identity from children Easier for lighter-colored Roma to deny identity

5 Intellectuals have essential role in ethnic mobilization – Large proportion of educated Roma choose not be be involved in Gypsy affairs – Many Roma who earn degrees are reluctant to return to their villages and turn away from them altogether – Gypsy politics are dominated by small number of activists who try to represent “their people” The enormous cultural distance between the educated and undereducated makes this difficult

6 Gypsy culture… – Based on maintaining a way of life – Patterns of interaction with the gadje – Few proud of cultural identity – In a Slovak study, only 19% of the the Gypsies asked think that Roma should preserve their culture and traditions – Most Roma have no interest in their history – Gypsies have a feeling of shared suffering – Some Romani activists define Romani identity as a European identity instead of specific to states

7 Romani Organizations -After the fall of communism many activists saw the creation of organizations the most appropriate vehicle for Gypsy mobilization -Activists focused on gaining political representation, publicizing human rights abuses, and alleviating socioeconomic problems

8 Problems with Organizations -too easy to register formal groups -everyone wants leadership positions -leaders unwilling to share power -many of the organizations claiming “national” status actually consist of single families -founded purely for financial gain -poorly organized -Difficulties getting along with each other -Intense competition for scarce resources Most Romani organizations merely pretend to represent their community

9 Organization Improvements Number of new local organizations have decreased Groups becoming more active in pursuing useful projects for the Roma Growing number of regional and national organizations with branches in different communities

10 Although the majority of Romani groups remain ineffective, the improvements should be recognized…..

11 NGOS are proposing to set up kindergarten classes, summer camps, self-help programs, work training courses. Romani theaters, Gypsy museums, numerous other cultural centers all exist today. There are now art galleries, soccer tournaments, writers circles and beauty pageants catering specifically to the Roma.

12 Political Organizations -few dozen political parties and NGOs focusing on political participation across the region. -minority organizations are allowed to participate in local and national elections even if they are not registered as regular political parties. (too difficult because they don’t have a national presence)

13 Successful NGOs Hungary’s Lungo Drom (Long Road) – Began in 1990 as local NGO – Has become the most important Romani organization in the country – -success in Gypsy self-government elections Bulgaria’s Human Rights Project – Provides legal aid and representation to Roma

14 Leadership Shortcomings -Gypsy leaders expend more energy fighting with each other than working for a cause -hypersensitive – Call well-intentioned colleagues “racists” if they disagree with them Inability to work well with state authorities

15 Two types of Romani elites – Traditional and Modern Traditional leaders tend to be older, little formal education, “ethnic entrepreneurs”, make outrageous demands and threats Modern leaders tend to be younger, well- educated, multilingual, more focused, can communicate with officials

16 Communication & Media -providing info to mainstream society and the Romani community is an important part of Gypsy mobilization Media messages tend to focus on negative phenomena associated with the Gypsies such as crime, scandals, & migration Neglect events and personalities that could increase societies appreciation of successful Roma Journalists & Communists refer to Roma as “our dark- skinned compatriots” or “disadvantaged minority” Gypsy activists have successfully established dozens of periodicals, still only few # of subscribers

17 Communication and Media -few Gypsy journalists – As soon as promising Gypsy journalists attract the attention of the mainstream media they tend to leave behind Romani publications Gypsy radio and television programs tend to contain music and dance rather than political issues Number of listeners is limited due to early morning and late night air times

18 Financial Affairs & Resources Bulk of financial support for Gypsy groups has come from state Most organizations poorly funded – Too many organizations competing for the finite amount of money that is available Finding colleagues who are “reliable with money” is exceedingly difficult. Romani media are full of reports of missing millions, dubious accounting schemes, corruption, and bribery in Gypsy NGOs and parties. Monies that are supposed to be spent on self-help projects or education programs often end up supporting the leaders families

19 Financial Affairs & Resources -funds spent on extravagant meals and entertainment for Romani leaders instead of alleviating poverty Until mid-1990s, few NGOs funding Romani organizations audited them

20 Electoral & Political Behavior Roma remain grossly underrepresented in local and national political bodies Factors Hindering Electoral Success – State authorities intimidate would-be Gypsy voters – Spread rumors to influence voting – Hard to gain enough votes to gain parliamentary representation – Gypsy political organizations divide between themselves the Romani vote, reduce parliamentary representation, settle for one guaranteed seat instead of the possible 4 if votes weren’t split – Unable to form effective electoral coalitions

21 Relations Between Romani and Majority Political Organizations Appealing to Romani community not important, small % of population Many parties have paid for Gypsy votes with cash, food supplies, bribing Roma with festivals… Politicians don’t rely on Gypsy votes because they are so easily manipulated

22 “Protocol” -first serious electoral agreement between a major mainstream political party and an important Romani organization Encouraged Roma to vote for PDSR, in return they helped the Roma by involving some of its members in policy-making

23 Gypsy Voting Behavior and Electoral Results Traditionally the Roma have kept their distance from politics, most of them have no confidence in the electoral system A large percentage of Gypsies are unaware of their organizations Roma do not know how to cast ballots properly (many are illiterate)

24 Progress in Gypsy Mobilization Growing number of Romani elected local officials Two Romani parties managed to get 92 of their candidates elected

25 Conclusion Gypsy mobilization is still in its infancy As Gypsy associations and leaders gain experience they are likely to become more effective.


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