Romani Studies

Limited opportunities for political participation: A case-study of Roma local councillors in Slovenia

Romani Studies (2007), 17, (2), 155–179.

Abstract

Throughout the transition period, Roma populations in Central and Eastern Europe have been largely left out of economic and policy-making processes. Many Roma communities were marginalised through poverty and physical isolation. When addressing this issue one should consider that if the Roma are to advocate better opportunities and solutions to the problems of their own communities, they will need to strengthen the level of their participation in political processes. Since few Roma have any political experience they will need strategies that address the obstacles to the Roma's political participation and the development of organised Romani political leadership. Such strategies should be implemented in legislation at the national level, considering the specifics and culture of each individual civil society. In Slovenia, legislators recognised this problem and have amended the Law on Local Self-government in 2001, which obliged local communities and political leaders to include the Roma minority in the policy-making process. This led to the first elections of local Romani councillors in 2002 in 19 Slovenian municipalities. The article aims to offer an evaluation of the institution, tasks and function of the Roma local councillor. Another goal is to challenge current practices and solutions and to criticise the method used at the national level for dealing with the problems that the Roma encounter.

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Author details

Baclija, Irena

Haček, Miro