Horváth (Změna), Roma candidate to the Czech lower house: I have a recipe for improving coexistence
An unusually high number of Romani people are running in this year's early elections compared to years past. The monthly Romano voďi, published by the ROMEA association, has done its best to interview all the candidates running for the lower house and will run those interviews in addition to publishing analytical material about the elections.
News server Romea.cz will be gradually publishing these interviews. We consider these elections to be important, key, and we hope to bring you the opinions of all those asking for your vote.
Today's interview introduces Drahomír Radek Horváth, who is running for the political movement "Změna" (Change) in the Ústí Region in seventh place.
Q: Why Změna in particular? Have you ever been a member of a political group before this?
A: I have previously been a candidate in municipal elections, but as a non-party member on the candidate list of a local political party. Změna reached out to me and was not the only political movement to do so. My decision to run on their candidate list was influenced by several factors, but it was their clear definition of how they were compiling the candidate list that particularly impressed me. Their candidates had to meet the following criteria: Personalities who could demonstrate that in the past they had long actively defended or promoted the public interest, or promoted economic, environmental or social innovation; who are capable of collaborating and communicating; who enjoy public credibility and are capable of reaching out to the wider public thanks to their previous activities; who are incorruptible and independent of business and the "godfathers"; and lastly, who share a civic-"green" political orientation and values.
Q: What are the chances, in your view, for Změna in the early elections in general and in your region in particular?
A: I am convinced that Změna has a chance to influence these elections, just like the "Hnutí PRO kraj" (Movement for the Region) influenced last year's regional elections. Změna's candidate lists include many people from "Hnutí PRO kraj". This is most obvious in the Ústí Region.
Q: Why have you criticized the alliance between the Equal Opportunities Party and the Green Party in this election?
A: My blog on that subject was misunderstood. I wasn't criticizing the alliance, but the form it has taken. However, I don't feel the need to return to that topic because I am a candidate now myself (I wasn't when I wrote the blog) and I reject any negative form of campaigning against other candidates and political parties. I apologize, but I won't be commenting further on that matter. If your readers are interested, my blog is still up and they can come to their own clear, comprehensible conclusions after reading it.
Q: What does Změna intend to do for minorities in the Czech Republic, what does it specifically want to focus on? What will your specific focus be? What do you think your chances are?
A: What I am promoting personally, and what has met with a friendly response from inside the Změna movement, is a clear, detailed definition of a concept for addressing the situation of socially excluded Romani localities and a recipe for improving coexistence between the majority population and the Romani minority. I have developed extensive materials and I don't know if I should get bogged down in the details here, but to summarize, this would involve raising awareness about the involvement of Romani communities in collaborating on solving this problem; stronger participation by Romani people, which will doubtless be more effective than paternalistic approaches to them; the need to consider a benefit system to replace the so-called basic income one; choosing to have the state fully pay workers' salaries for employers rather than provide demotivating benefits to those in material distress; primarily increasing employment in order to solve the fundamental problem of the socially excluded localities; and creating an independent law on social housing that clearly anchors in legislation what social housing is, whom it is intended for, who can provide it, and under what conditions, including public health and hygiene limits.
Q: Rather a lot of Romani people are running for various parties this year. What do you make of this? On the basis of your experience, do you believe all of those running are aware of what awaits them in politics?
A: I welcome the fact that Romani people are currently engaging in politics more than ever before. This is an indication of the fact that we are really concerned about the quality of our coexistence with others in this country. Many people expected negative developments in the light of these recent anti-Romani demonstrations, they expected we would radicalize and respond militantly and primitively, but it is evident that Romani people are individuals who contemplate matters rationally and who clearly, by participating in public affairs, are making known their willingness to change this situation for the better.
Q: Should the Romani candidates collaborate with one another even though they represent various points along the political spectrum?
A: Every reasonable person can collaborate with others. It just depends on whether they can find a common language and follow a shared aim. Ideology can be set aside if what is at stake is a higher ethical, moral interest.
Q: What does Romanipen mean to you?
A: An uninterrupted line back to your ancestors, pride in your ancestors. My grandfather, Emil Hunka, was the chair of the Union of Gypsies-Roma (Svaz Cikánů-Romů) in Děčín in 1970 and worked in the local community. My grandmother is still alive and she talks about being persecuted during the Second World War just for being Romani. It means an obligation, a moral obligation - if I have the capability and opportunity to do something for the general good, then it is my obligation to do so. Romanipen is part obligation and responsibility and part pride.
Q: What do politics and your participation in it symbolize to you?
A: It means contributing to improving conditions, putting my potential at the service of something higher, something that will influence the future in the right direction, something that, with my contribution, can influence the situation around Romani people and coexistence in our country for the better. There are many Romani people with potential who should start considering what they can do for the community, because it is very well possible that if we remain silent, the radicals will get the floor. Silence today is betrayal, as a great man once said. That is why I don't want to be silent and I decided to get involved in politics.
These interviews will be published in the print edition of Romano voďi magazine, the October edition of which will feature edited versions of all of these interviews (in Czech only). You can order a copy of the October edition at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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