Hungarian Regional Autonomy

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Map of the proposed Hungarian Regional Autonomy

The Hungarian Regional Autonomy (Hungarian: Magyar körzeti önkormányzat; Serbian: Мађарска регионална самоуправа or Mađarska regionalna samouprava) is the name of a proposed new administrative unit in the northern part of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, Serbia, which is a part of the political program of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians; but the idea is also supported by several other ethnic Hungarian political parties in Serbia.

Proposal[edit]

The creation of this new administrative unit was proposed by the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians political party and was supported by their coalition partners from the Hungarian Coalition (notably by the Democratic Party of Vojvodina Hungarians and the Democratic Fellowship of Vojvodina Hungarians). In this proposal, the Hungarian Regional Autonomy is proposed to be an autonomous region in the northern part of Vojvodina including the nine municipalities of northern Vojvodina: Subotica, Bačka Topola, Mali Iđoš, Kanjiža, Senta, Ada, Bečej, Čoka, and Novi Kneževac. The administrative centre of the region would be Subotica, while the region itself would be part of Vojvodina within Serbia. The proposal for the creation of the Hungarian Regional Autonomy is based on the autonomy model of South Tyrol in Italy.

Besides the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians and its coalition partners from Hungarian Coalition, some other ethnic Hungarian political parties and movements, like Hungarian Civic Alliance and 64 Counties Movement also advocating territorial autonomy for ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina and Serbia.

Some variants of these proposals advocating that only 8 municipalities should be included into Hungarian autonomous region, excluding the municipality of Novi Kneževac, which have a Serb ethnic majority. Contrary to this, the proposal of the 64 Counties Movement advocates creation of Hungarian autonomous region in much larger territory, which would include not only municipalities with Hungarian majority or plurality, but also sizable neighboring areas, where several notable towns with Serb ethnic majority are located.

Ethnic groups[edit]

Ethnic map of Vojvodina based on the 2011 municipality data
Ethnic map of Vojvodina based on the 2002 settlement data

Based on the 2002 census data, the proposed new region would have a population composed of 52.10% Hungarians, 25.74% Serbs, 5.31% Croats, 4.87% Bunjevci, 3.50% Yugoslavs, 1.69% Montenegrins, 1.34% Romani, and others.

60.40% of all Hungarians living in Serbia and 61.04% of all Hungarians living in Vojvodina would live within the borders of the proposed region.

The ethnic composition of the municipalities, which are supposed to be included into region look as follows:

The municipalities with Hungarian ethnic majority are: Kanjiža (86.52%), Senta (80.51%), Ada (76.64%), Bačka Topola (58.94%), Mali Iđoš (55.92%), and Čoka (51.56%).

The Novi Kneževac municipality has a Serb ethnic majority (59.53%).

The municipalities of Subotica and Bečej are ethnically mixed. The population of Subotica municipality is composed of 38.47% Hungarians, 24.14% Serbs, 11.24% Croats, 10.95% Bunjevci, 5.76% Yugoslavs, 1.25% Montenegrins, etc. The population of Bečej municipality is composed of 48.83% Hungarians, 41.06% Serbs, 2.61% Yugoslavs, 1.16% Roma, 1.06% Croats, etc.

Controversy[edit]

The creation of the Hungarian Regional Autonomy with proposed regional borders is a controversial issue. If the new region is supposed to be created by the democratic consensus and free voluntary association of the municipalities or settlements, it is not likely that the citizens of the predominantly Serb municipality of Novi Kneževac would vote to join their municipality to the Hungarian Regional Autonomy.

It is also questionable how would vote the majority of the citizens of the ethnically mixed municipalities of Subotica and Bečej, since the ethnic Hungarians make up less than 50% of population in these municipalities. For example, in the municipality of Subotica, the proposed administrative center of the new region, only 38.47% of the population are ethnic Hungarians, while 53.36% of the population are various Serbian or Croatian speaking South Slavic ethnic groups.

Another problem regarding successful implementation of the regional autonomy proposal is demographic trend in the area. The current proposal is based on demographic data from last population census in 2002, which put percent of Hungarians in the area at 52.10% and percent of Serbs at 25.74%. However, these demographic relations might change drastically in the next few decades. According to the 1991 census, the total population of this area (including all 9 municipalities) numbered 358,126 people, of whom 202,205 (56.46%) were ethnic Hungarians and 67,392 (18.82%) were ethnic Serbs. In 2002, the total population of the area was 340,006, of whom 177,143 (52.10%) were ethnic Hungarians and 87,499 (25.74%) were ethnic Serbs. Differences between two censuses show decrease of Hungarian and increase of Serb population in the area. If same demographic trends continue in the following time period, the next population census (in 2011) might show that Hungarians are no longer absolute but only relative majority in the area, while in 2020-2030 Serbs might replace Hungarians as the largest ethnic group in the area, hence it is hard to believe the majority of local inhabitants who will live in this area in 2020-2030 (or even in 2010) would support regional autonomy proposal. There is also a question whether regional autonomy that would be established right now could prevent decline of Hungarian population in the area. The examples from municipalities such are Subotica or Bečej show that no matter that these municipalities were under ethnic Hungarian local administration, the number of Hungarians in these areas declined.

Some argue that the steep decrease of Hungarian population and parallel growth of Serbian population experienced between 1991 and 2000 would not be so large between 2001 and 2010, as this phenomenon was partially fueled by the various armed conflicts that emerged on the territory of former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 2000. More specifically, a mass emigration of young ethnic Hungarian men could be observed following the outbreak of the conflicts, whose purpose was mainly to avoid military service in the Yugoslav army. Also, the largely ethnic reasons of the Yugoslav wars made many ethnic Hungarians feel insecure about their future in Serbia and, together with the ensuing economic regression, convinced them to opt for emigration to Hungary or to other countries. On the other hand, the strong increase of Serbian population in the region is partially due to the settlement of Serbs that fled Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo after the Yugoslav army, Serbian police or other local Serb armed formations had lost control over these territories. However, the previous period from 1948 to 1991, before the Yugoslav conflicts emerged, also show decrease of Hungarian and increase of Serbian population (428,932 Hungarians in Vojvodina in 1948 and 340,946 Hungarians in Vojvodina in 1991, 841,246 Serbs in Vojvodina in 1948 and 1,151,353 Serbs in Vojvodina in 1991). Therefore, even if not so fast, the further decrease of Hungarian population in Vojvodina is expected (Similar decrease of Hungarian population is also present in Slovakia and Romania, i.e., in countries that did not experienced armed conflicts and mass influx of refugees).

Support for the idea[edit]

In 2008 local elections in Serbia, the expectations of the Hungarian Coalition were to won majority of seats in the local parliaments of municipalities of Serbia with ethnic Hungarian majority, but this was the case only in municipality of Kanjiža, where Hungarian Coalition won 50.91% of votes. The Coalition also won the plurality of votes in municipalities of Senta (31.87%), Bačka Topola (46.25%), and Mali Iđoš (37.18%), while in municipalities of Čoka and Ada, the Hungarian Coalition was second largest political option, after Democratic Party (In Čoka, Democratic Party won 29.08% of votes and Hungarian Coalition won 24.47% of votes; in Ada, the coalition led by Democratic Party won 29.25% of votes and Hungarian Coalition won 25.70% of votes). In ethnically mixed municipality of Subotica, the Hungarian Coalition was also second largest political option after coalition led by Democratic Party (Democratic Party coalition won 40.16% of votes and Hungarian Coalition won 27.14% of votes in Subotica), while in ethnically mixed municipality of Bečej, the Hungarian Coalition won the plurality of votes (29.63%). In municipality of Novi Kneževac with ethnic Serb majority (claimed by Hungarian Coalition as part of proposed autonomous region), the Hungarian Coalition was third largest political option with 17.63% of votes (Largest political option in Novi Kneževac municipality was coalition led by Democratic Party with 27.18% of votes, and second largest was Serbian Radical Party with 22.46% of votes). [1]

In the 2012 local elections, the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians was not in coalition with other parties. The party won the largest number of seats in the municipal parliaments of Kanjiža, Senta, Bačka Topola, Mali Iđoš, and Čoka. Democratic Party won more votes than the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians in Subotica, Bečej, and Ada, in which largest part of population was of Hungarian ethnicity, according to 2002 census.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]