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May 25, 2022



RomaReact: The European Parliament elections are approaching: Will Roma candidates succeed?

Cluj-Napoca, Romania, 13.1.2014 23:09, (ROMEA)
The European Parliament. (PHOTO:  JLogan, Wikimedia Commons)
The European Parliament. (PHOTO: JLogan, Wikimedia Commons)

It is not something new for a Roma origin person to run candidature in European Parliament elections and be a MEP, Juan de Dios Ramírez Heredia was the first Roma ever to serve as a Member of the European Parliament, his example was followed also by Lívia Járóka or Viktória Mohácsi. As the 2014 European Parliament elections are approaching the reports about the increasing number of Roma origins candidates for MEP are increasing.

“Is time to stop discrimination against Roma, is time for Roma political participation at the European level” says Stefan Rostas, president of l'Agence européenne pour les Roms (AER) who announced that Roma will present eight candidates in next year's European Parliament elections. AER will have candidates from France, Belgium Germany and Romania, the European country with the largest Roma population.

Last month in December, Dorin Cioaba (Romania) stated that he is planning to open up a Roma political party and candidate for the EP elections. However, he is not planning to candidates in Romania, the country where he is from, but “in another European country in which Roma people are more united”.

Elections for the European Parliament will be held in all member states of the European Union (EU) between 22 and 25 May 2014, as decided unanimously by a decision the Council of the European Union. It will be the eighth Europe-wide election to the European Parliament since the first direct elections in 1979. The official run-up to the 2014 European elections started on 10 September, when the European Parliament launched its awareness and information campaign. Starting from January, most of the parties will adopt their list of candidates, campaign team, strategy for the European elections and national political objectives. The proper election campaign will start in February, the complete cycle of the lections ending up with the first plenary meeting of the newly elected MEPs.

The 2014 election will be the first to apply the apportionment of seats foreseen in application of the Lisbon treaty. The article 14 of the Treaty of Lisbon lays down that "The European Parliament shall be composed of representatives of the Union’s citizens. They shall not exceed seven hundred and fifty in number, plus the President. Representation of citizens shall be degressively proportional, with a minimum threshold of six members per Member State. No Member State shall be allocated more than ninety-six seats."
The allocation of seats to each member state is based on the principle of degressive proportionality, so that, while the size of the population of each country is taken into account, smaller states elect more MEPs than is proportional to their populations. As the numbers of MEPs to be elected by each country have arisen from treaty negotiations, there is no precise formula for the apportionment of seats among member states. Each Member State has different rules determining who can vote for and run as the European Parliamentary candidates.

Mainstream politicians fight for the Roma people’s votes being one of the relevant topics for the EP elections. By example Elena Basescu (Romanian MEP) has a high trust in Roma people’s votes. This year she participated in the International Roma Congress and declared that she will put on the European agenda relevant policies for supporting the Roma people and for solving their problems. Another interesting attempt for “buying” Roma people’s votes comes from Vadim Tudor (Romanian MEP), the leader of what a lot of people call “an extremist party”. Vadim declared himself that he is supporting the “gipsy cause” and he will try to find solutions for improving Roma people jobs.

Every EU citizen residing in an EU country of which he/she is not a national has the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in European Parliamentary elections in his/her country of residence, under the same conditions as nationals of that country - this right is enshrined in Article 39 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. In addition, the right to vote is included in Articles 20(1) and 22(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
It is therefore possible for a person to have the choice of voting in more than one EU member state. For example, a Romanian Roma who studies at university in Netherlands and lives at home outside term-time in the family home in the United Kingdom has the option of voting in the European Parliamentary election in Romania, Netherlands or the United Kingdom. In this scenario, although the Romanian citizen qualifies to vote in three EU member states, he/she is only permitted to cast one vote in one of the member states.

We hope that in the next EP elections there will be Roma independent candidates, or representatives of Roma political parties or NGOs on the electoral lists or at least candidates which will represent Roma people interests within the next European legislative. More important is that Roma citizens have the right to vote and that they will prove to be responsible, and vote the ones they think might represent the best his/her interests.

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