Feature 27 Nov 17

Hungary’s Orban Woos Romania’s Restive Hungarians

Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party has gone all out to win the support of the discontented ethnic Hungarians of Romania - whose votes could help it retain power in next year’s elections.

Marco Carlone, Martina Napolitano, Simone Benazzo
Photo: Marco Carlone, Martina Napolitano, Simone Benazzo

“I even cried; it was one of the best days of my life,” says Erika Benko, an MP from the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania, UDMR, the main party representing Romania’s well-organised Hungarian community.

The 42-year-old vice-chair of the Romanian parliament’s Committee for Human Rights, Cults and National Minorities Issues well remembers her feeling of excitement when she applied for and gained Hungarian citizenship in 2011.

Benko belongs to the so-called Szekler community of central Transylvania, the largest group inside Romania’s Hungarian minority.

Hungarians remains numerous in parts of Transylvania, which formerly formed part of Hungary. However, Hungary lost it when it had to surrender two-thirds of its territory under the harsh terms of the Treaty of Trianon in 1920.

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