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May 21, 2022



Commentary: Actual risk now exists that deniers of the Holocaust of the Roma could join the Czech Government

14.11.2018 15:24
Zdeněk Ryšavý (2017) (PHOTO: Stephen McKenzie)
Zdeněk Ryšavý (2017) (PHOTO: Stephen McKenzie)

The "Stork's Nest" affair has returned to the Czech political scene. While it hadn't exactly gone away, it had been on ice for a while now.

The controversy has been newly revived by the reporting of Jiří Kubík and Sabina Slonková, journalists with the Seznam Zprávy news server. This has opened a Pandora's box, as it means the entire affair could be drawing to a close, and the ultimate outcome could be a cabinet where the xenophobic populists from the "Freedom and Democracy Party" of Tomio Okamura are sitting alongside Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, thanks to the support of Czech President Miloš Zeman.

Yesterday evening's bizarre press conference, during which representatives of the opposition parties in the so-called democratic bloc stood side-by-side with Okamura, who represents right-wing extremists (forgive me, I know we're not supposed to use that term) in the basically populist-xenophobic SPD was a demonstration of political naivete and unpreparedness. The only person there who had thought through his next move, apparently, was Okamura.

The SPD chair did not say a word during that press conference. Elsewhere that same evening, though, on the Barrandov cable television channel he calls home, Okamura clearly said: "We want there to be a vote of no confidence, but for an absolutely different reason. We want to replace the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD), get into the Government, and advocate for our program."

Immediately this morning Okamura met directly at the Office of the Government with the PM. So did the boss of the Communists, Vojtěch Filip.

"I suspected there would be room to advocate for the SPD program. Babiš told me to prepare a legislative package and that we could meet about it next week," Okamura said at today's press conference.

Have the Civic Democrats (ODS), the Pirates, and the other small democratic parties actually thought through their next steps? What happens if the ČSSD gives the PM an ultimatum to resign and threatens to leave the Government unless he does?

ODS chair Petr Fiala has said he does not want early elections. Does that mean that if the Government falls, a technocratic cabinet in the hands of Zeman will rule, since the President is so frighteningly close to Okamura's SPD?

Is the PM currently negotiating a new coalition in which the ČSSD is replaced by the SPD and the Communists will get to walk back into the Office of the Government through the front door? The situation is not easy - if the Government falls now, we are actually risking the formation of a Government including people who openly deny the Holocaust of the Roma and make no secret of their racist opinions.

Zdeněk Ryšavý, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Andrej Babiš, Extremism, Svoboda a přímá demokracie (SPD), Tomio Okamura


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