Hungarian municipalities less likely to respond to letters they suspect are from Roma

The study, co-authored by Hungarian political scientists from Central European University and ELTE University, looked at more than 1,200 Hungarian local authorities on various issues. [EPA-EFE / Balazs Mohai]

A new study revealed Hungarian local level officials are less likely to respond to letters received from names stereotypically associated with Roma people, Telex reported via G7.

The study, co-authored by Hungarian political scientists from Central European University and ELTE University, looked at more than 1,200 Hungarian local authorities on various issues. The researchers sent letters asking about cycle paths, local kindergarten facilities, cemetery opening hours, wheelchair accessibility, or possible wedding venues.

These questions concern public data, and local authorities have a duty to respond. The researchers sent the emails from fake addresses that included stereotypical Roma names, which were also used as signatures in the emails. Each municipality contacted received two letters, one from an address that appeared to be Roma and one from an address that did not appear to be Roma.

Around 60% of the letters from non-Roma respondents received a reply in the first round, while only 45% of Roma respondents received an answer in the second round.

The municipalities in question were then provided with a summary of public data and information obligations by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ) NGO, which proved effective in the short term in equalising the response rate between Roma and non-Roma respondents. Later, however, this effect disappeared, and the municipalities reverted to their previous practices.

(Vlagyiszlav Makszimov | EURACTIV.com with Telex)

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