The Forbidden Fruit of Federalism. Evidence from Romania and Slovakia

TitleThe Forbidden Fruit of Federalism. Evidence from Romania and Slovakia
Publication TypeJournal Article
Journal titleWest European Politics

Territorial autonomy is one aspect of power-sharing in multi-ethnic societies. Nevertheless, the multi-ethnic countries of Central and Eastern Europe are still among the most centralised in the European Union. This article analyses the failure of any attempts to establish (symmetric) federalism or (asymmetric) autonomy, creating self-governed regions by the Hungarian minorities in Romania and Slovakia. The analysis focuses on the positions of the main parties of the ethnic majorities and the Hungarian minority parties in the two countries. In both cases, the parties representing the Hungarian minorities have favoured territorial autonomy along ethnic lines, but this demand has been rejected by the parties of the ethnic majority. Against the historical legacy of unstable borders, the parties of the ethnic majority argue that territorial autonomy or federalisation might be a first step for a revisionist agenda and separatism. Instead, supported by the European integration, the parties have been able to agree on decentralisation as a half-hearted compromise.

Publisher link
Department of Political Science
Nationalism Studies Program