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European Journal

Hungary: The National Roma Strategy

Two year ago Hungary approved its National Social Inclusion Strategy, intended to improve the lot of its Roma population. Back then, the strategy was hailed as a milestone that could be a model for Europe. But the ethnic minority has seen little benefit.

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The once troubled village of Cserdi in southern Hungary has been held up by the government of Viktor Orban as a role model for successful integration of Roma. Mayor László Bogdán, himself a Roma, has won praise for cleaning up his village and getting people back to work. But others criticize him for making jobless Roma toil without pay as part of the center-right government's public work program. While a few thousand Roma have profited from the Orban government's training programs, most of Hungary's more than 700-thousand Roma are being subjected to ever-new forms of harassment. This spring Hungarians go to the polls and a new law is threatening the Roma's right to vote.