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Political Participation of National Minorities in the German-Danish Border Region. A Survey amongst the Minority Members

Presenter
Adrian Schaefer-Rolffs
Universität Hamburg
Authors
Adrian Schaefer-Rolffs
Universität Hamburg

Abstract
With the Bonn-Copenhagen Declarations from 1955, Germany and Denmark committed to equally protect each other’s national minorities and the minorities’ rights. In the following decades several mechanisms and institutions for the protection of national minorities developed in both countries.

One of the most important tools to provide minority protection is to provide effective means for political participation for the minorities. Therefore the paper focuses on investigating institutions (actors) for the political participation of the national minorities in the German-Danish border region. The most important actors seem to be the minorities’ political parties and cultural organizations as well as two special institutions for the political participation of the minorities, provided by the government of state of residency. These institutions are the Secretariat for the German Minority in Copenhagen and the Commissioner for Minorities and Culture of Schleswig-Holstein.

The results of the survey show differences in the satisfaction with the work of the secretariat for the German Minority in Copenhagen and the Commissioner for Minorities and Culture of Schleswig-Holstein. The German minority in Denmark, being very satisfied with the work of the Secretariat for the German Minority in Copenhagen, while the Danish minority in Germany do not show much satisfaction with the Commissioner for Minorities and Culture of Schleswig-Holstein. By comparing the two special institutions at hand and identify reasons in the institutional design that cause this diverging apperception, the paper compares two different approaches for promoting minority participation and thus minority protection. One approach is actively embedding the minority in compensating them for given disadvantages (Demark). This approach seems to be regarded with a high level of satisfaction within the minority. The other approach (Germany) is allocating the task of compensation to a governmental actor and by doing so does not create a great level of satisfaction within the minority.
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