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September 15, 2019
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EP elections bring two Romani men and one Romani woman to Brussels

29.5.2019 7:22
Romeo Franz (left), Lívia Járóka (center) and Peter Pollák (right) (Collage: Romea.cz)
Romeo Franz (left), Lívia Járóka (center) and Peter Pollák (right) (Collage: Romea.cz)

News server Romea.cz has learned that two Romani men and one Romani woman have succeeded in being elected to the European Parliament. Romeo Franz of Germany and Lívia Járóka of Hungary were re-elected to their seats.

The Romani newcomer will be Peter Pollák of Slovakia. The number of Romani MEPs has fallen from five to three.

All three ran on the candidate lists of majority-society parties, and no purely Romani-profiled parties succeeded in the elections. Járóka ran on the candidate list of the FIDESZ party of Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán.

FIDESZ won 52.3 % of the vote, which yielded the party 13 of the 21 seats allocated to Hungary at the EP. Járóka ran in third place on the list and her election had been anticipated.

Járóka has been an MEP, with just a brief interruption, since 2004. She did not run in 2014 but was a substitute.

After Hungarian MEP Ildikó Pelczné Gáll resigned, Járóka took her seat on 1 September 2017 and entered her third term as an MEP. She is the historically first female MEP of Romani origin and the second representative of the Romani minority at the EP in history.

The first male MEP of Romani origin was Juan de Dios Ramírez Heredia of Spain, who served from 1986-1999. Járóka is achieving yet another historical milestone with her re-election, becoming the longest-serving MEP of Romani nationality at the EP.

Járóka also is the only Romani woman ever to serve as Vice-President of the EP, which happened during her previous mandate. The other Romani MEP to win re-election is Romeo Franz, who ran for the Green Party in 10th place on the candidate list.

The Greens won 21 seats of the 96 allocated to Germany. Franz was an MEP during part of the last session, joining in March 2018.

At the EP Franz has worked in the areas of culture, domestic policy and minority protections. Newcomer Pollák won his seat running on the candidate list of the movement of "Ordinary People and Independent Figures" (OĽaNO).

Pollák ran in third place, and prior to the elections the chair of the movement, Igor Matovič, stepped aside as the lead candidate and expressed his support for Pollák in particular. OĽaNO won just a single seat of the 14 allocated for Slovakia and Pollák, thanks to the preferential votes he received (23 815), moved to first place on the candidate list.

Gabriela Hrabaňová: I believe collaboration on combating antigypsyism will remain a priority

According to Gabriela Hrabaňová, director of the ERGO Network organization in Brussels, it is not yet clear what new challenges or opportunities the election results will yield in terms of EU policy on Roma. She expressed appreciation for the fact that despite Romani voices in the EP being weakened, the program agenda there will include a green Europe, pro-EU forces, and a social Europe.

"Romeo Franz of Germany is riding the Green wave into the [European] Parliament, we can count on his maximum support and on profiting from the year he has spent in office at the Parliament. We hope he will also be more visible and will carry on the work of Soraya Post from Sweden," Hrabaňová said.

Romani candidate Soraya Post did not win re-election to the EP. The "Feminist Initiative", on whose candidate list she ran, did not win even 1 % of the vote in Sweden.

In 2014 that party scored more than 5 % and exactly one MEP. Despite losing Post as an ally in Brussels, Hrabaňová said she is glad Pollák has been elected from Slovakia.

"Above all I hope he benefits from his political work in Slovakia and orients himself quickly at the European Parliament," the ERGO director commented. She characterized the FIDESZ party in Hungary, for which Járóka was elected, as a populist, right-wing one.

"The role of Lívia Járóka inside the European People's Party (EPP) [faction at the EP] is important, but she is influenced by her party's politics," Hrabaňová told news server Romea.cz. "I believe the question of Romani people will remain on the program of the main political parties along with other social questions and that collaboration on combating antigypsyism will remain a priority. Whatever happens, it will be necessary to intensify negotiations about specific activities, including legislative proposals, and we will need to involve MEPs from across the political parties and count on support from the majority."

Zdeněk Ryšavý, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

Election, European Parliament, Peter Pollák, poslanec, Viktor Orbán, antigypsyism, ERGO Network, Green Party, Lívia Járóka



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