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News 17 Oct 17

Romania Snubs Push to Honour 1848 Uprising

A proposal by Romania's ethnic Hungarians to honour March 15 as the anniversary of the 1848 Hungarian uprising against Austria has drawn a cool response from Romanian parliamentarians.  

Ana Maria Touma
Celebrations of Mach 15 in Targu Secuiesc, Romania. Photo: Levente Tofan/Inquam Photos

Romania’s Senate on Monday postponed a vote on a bill designed to commemorate March 15 as the anniversary of the 1848 Revolution in Hungary.

Hungarians everywhere honour the uprising against Habsburg rule - eventually crushed by Austria with Russian aid.

But few Romanians in the Austrian Empire supported the revolt, and it led also to Hungary's absorbtion of Transylvania, in which Romanians were the majority population.

The bill submitted by the Democrat Union of Hungarians in Romania, UDMR, the main ethnic Hungarian party, had been on the Senate agenda for two weeks, but the vote did not happen due to lack of a quorum.

A majority of the Senators had already expressed opposition to the bill, especially because the 1848 Revolution led to Hungary's annexation of Transylvania.

On May 29, 1848, the Transylvanian Diet ratified union with Hungary, but the mainly peasant Romanians were not represented in the assembly and strongly disagreed with the decision.

The Hungarian community in Romania has marked March 15 as holiday – which Hungary decreed the "Day of Hungarians Everywhere" – since 1991 with marches and folklore shows.

However, the holiday has also caused controversy because some parties have used it to further their campaign for an autonomous Hungarian region, in the Covasna, Harghita and parts of Mures counties of Transylvania.

Romania's ruling Social Democrats are firmly against the idea of an autonomous Hungarian region - and against marking the 1848 uprising as a holiday.

“The stance of the Social Democrat Party is that ... we would not vote for it,” Social Democrat Senator Nicolae Serban said.

He said the Senate would only be likely to support a bill proposing a national holiday dedicated to all the ethnic minorities in Romania.

After a week-long political crisis in June led to the ruling Social Democrats bringing down their own government in a no-confidence vote, the party tried to reach a deal with the UDMR to get its support in passing the no-confidence motion.

However, the Hungarian party’s demands, including the March 15 bill, were deemed too much by most Social Democrats members.

Over 1.2 million ethnic Hungarians live in Romania, amounting to about 6 per cent of the country’s population. 

Most live in Transylvania, which was transferred from Austria-Hungary to Romania as part of the peace settlement at the end of World War I.

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