According to the latest census in 2011 carried out by the National Statistics Office (2011) there were 105 738 Romas in Slovakia, which corresponds to the 2 % of the population as a whole. But this number is really distorting the reality. Carying out a survey on such a huge group of people, the whole country, has its disadvantages and issues. Over 7 % of the population has an unknown nationality, which is almost 400 000 citizens. The estimate of the project ATLAS of Roma communities in Slovakia (2013) the Roma minority comprises slightly over 7% of the whole population of the republic, which is about 402 000 persons. From these numbers it is apparent that Roma minority is one of the more important ones (with Hungarian minority being the second one) and has been medialised quite often. Crushing majority in this country realizes the problem we have with this minority, and also that the solution to it is far from today's reality.
Throughout the history of Slovak Republic the 'nationality card' has been used to a great extent in electoral campaigns, trying to frame various minorities (Hungarian, Roma, LGBTI,...) as the enemies and infirmities of the majority. This only spurred hatred and never lead to any productive political debate or discourse. Nationalism was a strong tool in the electoral campaigns, usually on the state level. But something unexpected to many happened in the 2013 regional elections in Slovakia. Marián Kotleba, the leader of the extreme-right party 'Ľudová strana – Naše Slovensko' (LSNŠ), has managed to get elected into the office of 'župan' who is the regional or district administrator. His campaign was heavily using the 'Roma card' which was really powerful since Banskobystrický region is one with the highest concentration of Roma in Slovakia.
What is striking was the situation in Košický region, which has the highest percentage of Roma settlements in Slovakia (Štatistický úrad, 2013), over 58 %. In this region the problem with Roma is significant and many bigger cities have a segregated Roma settlement nearby. Košice also has the biggest Roma neighbourhood in Slovakia – Luník IX. Nevertheless, almost none of the ten candidates for 'župan' used the Roma card in the regional elections, which compared to the Banskobystrický region is perplexing.
This analytical essay will try to find out why the Roma question was not one of the main issues of the 2013 regional elections in Slovakia and why it was framed as almost non-existent. The reasons for this are: a) that there are other more important issues in the region which need attention; b) it is a case of 'white' populism – everyone knows about this issue, but do not want to hear about it; c) small competences of the regional governments to deal with this issue. Concepts of 'framing' and 'issues' wil be used as a framework for the analysis. All of these reasons are hard to assess, since none research has been done on this topic.
Framing and Issues
Framing and Issues are...