Minorities: perspectives on effective participation

Emilian Frâncu, MP, Vice-Chair of the Committee for Human Rights, Cults and National Minorities Issues (Romania)

  • Poverty is the main obstacle to the effective political participation of minorities. Poverty encourages vote buying and directs votes towards the big political parties. It is therefore necessary to help minorities organise themselves to ensure their representation. He warned, however, against “egoism” among such organisations, each of which claims to be the true representative of minorities.

Joe Frans, former MP, former Chair of the UN Working Group on People of African Descent (Sweden)

  • There are very subtle ways of ensuring that minorities were underrepresented. If one did not understand how discrimination determined the social fabric, one would not understand how minorities are excluded.
  • Minorities’ participation in political parties is crucial as it is within party structures that decisions are made. The challenge for minorities’ representatives once elected is “not to succumb to the niceties of parliament”. Minority MPs are the ones who have to produce a vision and to ensure that the discussion does not dry up.

Gay McDougall, United Nations Independent Expert on minority issues

  • Discrimination stands in the way of finding solutions. Minorities are disproportionally poor because of discrimination. However, if there is political will, there is an array of measures that could be taken to ensure effective representation.
  • A major obstacle is the non-recognition by States of minorities. The fiction in some States that there are no minorities makes it hard to overcome obstacles.

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