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August 16, 2018
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Analysis: Publicly active Romani figures voted for Drahoš, the socially excluded voted for Zeman

28.1.2018 19:33
Romani voters in the Czech Republic cast their ballots during the 2017 elections to the lower house. (PHOTO:  Faceboook)
Romani voters in the Czech Republic cast their ballots during the 2017 elections to the lower house. (PHOTO: Faceboook)

At the Romani-inhabited housing estate of Chanov, during the final round of voting for the President of the Czech Republic, 11.37 % of voters turned out, 80 % of whom voted for Jiří Drahoš. A closer look at the outcomes of the vote in other socially excluded localities, however, shows low voter turnout, with those who did turn out favoring the incumbent, who ultimately won the election.

Just as Czech society was divided in this election along the lines of bigger cities versus villages, or the educated and the younger versus the less educated and older, Romani people are also divided politically. Romani people in socially excluded localities did not vote for Drahoš to protest the anti-Romani remarks of Czech President Zeman, who has taken a clear stance against the buyout of the pig farm on the Romani genocide site at Lety u Písku and who was publicly supported by the antigypsyist Czech MP Tomio Okamura and the ultra-right chair of the DSSS, Tomáš Vandas.

According to the turnout in socially excluded localities, we can say that Romani voters mostly did not turn out at all, just as they failed to turn out during the elections to the lower house, but without more detailed data we cannot determine whether those who voted for Zeman from the socially excluded localities were non-Roma or Roma. On the other hand, the presidential elections demonstrated that publicly active Romani figures, leaders, members of the middle class or young Romani students did vote and chose Drahoš overwhelmingly.

That conclusion can be drawn from the responses given by such Romani people to online surveys taken by news server Romea.cz and from the posts such people have made to Facebook. These Romani figures and leaders, however, did not manage to convince impoverished Romani voters in socially excluded localities to join them in casting ballots against Zeman.

Chanov

Compared to the first round of voting, where the Chanov housing estate in Most was won by challenger Michal Horáček and Drahoš did not receive a single vote, 100 % more voters turned out during the second round. Participation there rose to 11.37 %.

Compared to the national average that number is of course very low, but in the Chanov context it is a higher number than usual. Customarily fewer people from Chanov cast ballots during elections than do voters elsewhere.

Drahoš won the Chanov vote overwhelmingly, with 82.75 % of voters choosing him in the second round. In actual numbers the challenger got 72 votes and Zeman 15, or 17.24 % of the vote.

During the first round of voting at Chanov just 10 voters chose the incumbent. The remarks made by Chanov resident Petr Bažo, who said after the first round that local Romani voters were fed up with Zeman, have been confirmed by these results.

Obrnice

The situation in neighboring Obrnice was different. Approximately 2 500 inhabitants live there, and according to qualified estimates more than 1 000 are Romani.

Overall, as in the first round, Zeman won with 75.1 % of a voter turnout of 30.43 %. Obrnice is divided into three electoral precincts and it is interesting that in one of them the turnout was almost 70 %, while in the other two it ranged between 23 % and 26 %.

The precincts with lower turnouts cover the socially excluded locality known colloquially as the "Big Housing Estate" (Velké sídliště). The incumbent won there with 73.42 % of the vote.

Krupka

In this municipality of the Ústecký Region, where a large Romani minority lives, Zeman won with 64.19 %. At the Maršov housing estate, which the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion estimates is about 70 % Romani, the voter turnout in precinct 8, which includes Karla Čapka Street, exceeded 32 %.

As during the first round, Zeman won there with 65.98 % of the vote. His first-round results there were 48.99 %, while Drahoš received 17.11 % and challenger Horáček got 15.1 %.

Duchcov

In the town of Duchcov, which has seen anti-Romani demonstrations in the past and has been a bastion of the ultra-right DSSS (which won 18.45 % of the vote to the lower house in 2013 in precinct 1), Zeman won with 70.41 % of the vote. DSSS chair Vandas supported Zeman prior to the second round of voting.

Turnout for all of Duchcov was 52.17 %, while the precincts in the northern part of town reported a turnout of around 60 % and the southern precincts, where Romani residents live, just made it over the 30 % mark. Zeman won there also with more than 60 % of the vote.

Trmice

The population of Trmice is 3 300 people, an estimated one-fourth of whom are Romani, and turnout there was 42 %. Zeman won 648 votes, or 64.6 % of the ballots cast.

Drahoš won 355 votes in the second round compared to 216 in the first round. Outcomes were very similar for both electoral precincts there.

Předlice and Mojžíř

Just like at Chanov, the second-round voter turnout in the Předlice quarter of Ústí nad Labem rose by almost 100 %, coming in at 11.2 %. Zeman won the second round with 62.37 % of the vote.

Drahoš won 38 votes compared to nine during the first round. Activist Miroslav Brož told news server Romea.cz that "The members of Amare Předlice voted rationally, i.e., against Zeman, who is infamous for his anti-Romani remarks and his dissemination of xenophobia. However, we do not have the resources, neither financial nor human, to undertake political education in the locality, which would be very necessary."

In another Romani-inhabited quarter including, for example, Jindřicha Plachty Street and the Mojžíř housing estate, turnout was about 20 % and Zeman won with 68.59 % of the vote. In all of Ústí nad Labem he won 57.61 % of the vote.

Varnsdorf

In Varnsdorf's electoral precinct 9, which covers Kovářská Street and is pejoratively labeled a "Romani ghetto", Zeman won 62.98 % (292 votes), while Professor Drahoš won 154 votes compared to 56 in the first round. Voter turnout was 39.68 % and the outcome in precinct 9 was practically identical to that in all of Varnsdorf.

Ostrava

If we look at the Moravian-Silesian Region, specifically at Ostrava, electoral precinct number 19003 in Ostrava-Silesia was of most interest during the first round of voting, as absolutely nobody turned out to vote there. The precinct includes Romani people evicted in recent years from Přednádražní Street.

The second round did not see high turnout, but some voters did cast ballots. To be precise, nine voters cast eight valid ballots.

Six of those votes went to Professor Drahoš and two to the current head of state. Just three of 115 registered voters turned out for last year's lower house elections in that electoral precinct.

Rather interesting outcomes were reported for the voting in the Ostrava-Přívoz quarter during last year's lower house elections. In precinct 8001, the SPD party of Tomio Okamura got 27.61 % of the vote, beating ANO with 20.95 %.

In precinct 8002 those two political groups switched places during the lower house vote. During the first round of this year's presidential election in precinct 8001, Zeman won with about 70 % of the ballots cast and a turnout of about 19 % (for both 8001 and 8002).

During the second round, precinct 8002 had a higher turnout (28.54 %) and Zeman's results were lower (60.30 %). The incumbent dominated in the Ostrava-Kunčičky quarter with more than 70 % of the vote.

Drahoš won in some precincts of Ostrava-Přívoz with about 60 % of the vote. However, it is not possible to assess whether the call by local Romani authorities to vote for him had any influence.

Vsetín - Poschla

News server Romea.cz followed the outcomes for the first round of the election in the precinct that includes the Poschla locality. Romani people were displaced to live in container housing in that quarter by the Mayor of Vsetín, Jiří Čunek, a decade ago.

As Romea.cz reportedly previously, the Czech Statistical Bureau data do not make it possible to precisely determine who voted for whom in that precinct, because Poschla comprises just a small part of precinct 7. During the second round turnout was 65.78 % and Zeman earned a close victory with 51.32 % of the ballots cast, just 15 votes more than Drahoš.

Zdeněk Ryšavý, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Prezident, Prezidentské volby, Prezidentské volby 2018, Předlice



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