On 15 June at 11:00 Ionut Chiruta will defend his doctoral thesis “Triadic nexus relationships in an age of populism: interactions between Hungary, Romania and the Hungarian minority in Szeklerland” for obtaining the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (in Political Science).
Professor Vello Pettai, University of Tartu
Dr. Andreea Udrea, Royal Holloway University of London (UK)
The integration of certain Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries into the European Union has helped to ease tensions and promote peaceful coexistence among various ethnic groups from many countries. Because of this transition, one of the resulting and most important cases where interethnic and interstate appeasement was possible, and which was also proposed as a model in the region and the Balkans, is that of Hungary, Romania, and the Hungarian minority. The Triadic Nexus model, proposed by Rogers Brubaker (1996), has been used to analyse past and present interethnic conflicts and ways to avoid them. Recent political phenomena have rendered this theory important. This dissertation updates Brubaker’s model by replacing the concept of nationalism with populism and illiberalism and applies it to the three groups in the nexus (Romania, Hungary, and the Hungarian national minority in Romania) to examine these effects in ethnopolitical processes. The dissertation includes four studies that examine the role of kin-state activism, memory issues, populist discourse, and political participation and how these are shaping public discourse and political preferences. The first study focuses on the role of kin-state activism in transferring populist and illiberal viewpoints through cultural heritage and memory studies when maintaining the cultural identity of national minorities. The second study examines the impact of populist illiberalism discourses and practices on the political processes in Romania. The two studies encompassing the minority reactions investigate the effects of the above stimuli when shaping the public discourse and political preferences of the Hungarian minority in Romania. Overall, the findings of this dissertation demonstrate the adaptability and continued relevance of the Triadic Nexus model in understanding the complex dynamics between Romania, Hungary, and the national minority and offer insights for policymaking in the European Union.