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August 24, 2019
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Czech center-right party distances itself from collaborating with extremists in local government

27.10.2018 17:18
Jan Hamáček, chair of the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) and Tomáš Vandas, chair of the extremist Workers Social Justice Party (DSSS), 2018. (Collage: Romea.cz)
Jan Hamáček, chair of the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) and Tomáš Vandas, chair of the extremist Workers Social Justice Party (DSSS), 2018. (Collage: Romea.cz)

A coalition agreement was signed on Monday, 22 October in the town of Duchcov (Teplice district) by representatives of the locally victorious Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) with the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM), the extremist Workers Social Justice Party (DSSS) and the "We Live in Duchcov" (Žijeme Duchcovem) group, which is comprised of independent candidates and the center-right TOP 09 party. Jindřich Svoboda, chair of the DSSS cell in Duchcov, will now begin his second term as a local councilor there.

"I'm glad we can continue the previous arrangements," Svoboda told the Czech News Agency, praising his extremist party's previous collaboration with the ČSSD. According to the regional chair of the ČSSD, Miroslav Andrt, there is no reason exclude the Duchcov cell from the party because of its collaboration with the extremist DSSS.

"The local organization,  led by Mayor Šimbera and through collaboration with the DSSS, has managed to calm the situation in Duchcov. Mayor Šimbera has our full support from the standpoint of advocating for social democratic values at the local level," Andrt said.

The local elections this month were won in Duchcov by the ČSSD despite (or even because of?) the local Social Democratic cell having excluded from the party four years ago, exactly over its collaboration with the DSSS, which is a right-wing extremist party. Former ČSSD chair Bohuslav Sobotka previously said the cell must be excluded because its approach contravened the Social Democratic program and the principles it advocates.

Sobotka strictly refused the ČSSD creating coalitions with parties of a Fascist or racist character at any level of government. The 2014 decision to close the Duchcov cell was supported at the time by the vast majority of ČSSD central committee.

While none of the members of the central committee opposed the move to close the Duchcov cell, some members did abstain from voting on the issue. Sobotka said at the time that the ČSSD had sent a clear signal to the public that it was impossible to collaborate with parties like the DSSS at any level.

The ČSSD leadership at the level of the Ústecký Region objected and refused to exclude any members for collaborating with the DSSS. The ČSSD cell in Duchcov was quietly reopened in May 2018.

After the 2014 local elections, the local ČSSD cell in Duchcov had concluded a coalition agreement with the DSSS and the KSČM. After this year's local elections, the DSSS has lost two of its local assembly seats there.

Svoboda is the only DSSS member to have been elected this time around. The communists have also been replaced by the "We Live in Duchcov" group of independent candidates and TOP 09 party members.

TOP 09 has categorically distanced itself from the Duchcov coalition agreement. The regional chair of TOP 09, Michal Kučera, and the chair of the TOP 09 organization in Teplice, Petr Měsíc, have issued a press release stating that TOP 09 does not want to be associated with extremist parties like either the DSSS or the KSČM under any circumstances.

The chair of the DSSS, Tomáš Vandas, ran in the local elections this year for a party calling itself "Clean Ústí" (Čisté Ústí). He captured attention by, among other things, being featured on billboards reading "Don't pay the parasites" ("Neplatit parazitům").

The Czech Police have also been investigating the alleged identity theft involved with some of the names featured on the "Clean Ústí" candidate list. Many people from Ústí nad Labem claim their names were put on the list without their knowledge.

Vandas denied misusing any personal information and said he considered the entire scandal to be a campaign aimed at weakening him politically. In August his adherents organized a demonstration in the town of Dubí in response to a brawl at a swimming facility resulting from a scuffle between two women.

The Czech Police arrested several people during that demonstration on suspicion of showing sympathy for a movement aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms. DSSS followers also assaulted the photographer Vít Hassan and shouted racist insults at him during the assembly.

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

ČSSD, DSSS, Duchcov, TOP 09



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