Czech Christian Democrats to be led by fan of skinhead band Orlík
Today Pavel Bělobrádek, a 33-year-old veterinarian from the Czech town of Náchod, became chair of the Christian Democratic Union - Czech People's Party (KDU-ČSL). The heretofore unknown secretary of the Christian Democrats' regional organization in Pardubice won 280 of a possible 425 votes, crushing his rival, party vice-chair Michaela Šojdrová, who won only 84 votes. Bělobrádek will chair the party until 2013. Other candidates were Jaroslav Orel, who won 20 votes, and Ludvík Hovorka, who won 41 votes.
Bělobrádek wants to profile the party as center-right with an emphasis on social issues. He believes the Christian Democrats are now missing from high politics as a "non-socialist alternative to laissez-faire ruthlessness".
"Thank you for your trust. I wish you all a good selection of the team as a whole, and I accept your choice with humility. We will start working on ourselves from the ground up," the new chair declared before accepting congratulations from his supporters for several minutes.
Just before the nomination, Bělobrádek and Šojdrová clashed over the fact that he did not name her as one of the people with whom he would want to collaborate should he win. Šojdrová then said she had made a mistake to name him as one of her favorites for party vice-chair. The candidates spent two hours responding verbally to questions submitted in writing from an audience of party delegates.
Bělobrádek admitted during the "grilling" that he suffers from a serious illness, but said the state of his health will more or less permit him to perform the job of party chair. "I do have multiple sclerosis, but I am completely stabilized and fully competent to take on a full workload," he said in response to a delegate's question, adding that his only restriction is that he cannot spend time in infectious environments. Bělobrádek said he was not afraid that the full-time stress related to chairing the party might pose a risk to his health. "I wouldn't be here if I hadn't consulted my physician. I am fully prepared to withstand any kind of pressure," he said.
Bělobrádek, who is single, also answered questions about his marital status. He said he had plenty of opportunity to spoil his niece and nephew, and if he were elected KDU-ČSL chair, the media would be reporting on his wedding next year, as he is engaged.
Delegates loudly applauded Bělobrádek after he said that he came from a butcher's family and had even worked at a slaughterhouse. "I've gotten my hands on a lot of cattle and swine in my day and believe me, I'll know how to handle them in high politics as well," he said to thunderous applause.
Bělobrádek is an admirer of the early works of Daniel Landa
Pavel Bělobrádek also publishes his musings on his blog at news server idnes.cz. News server Deníkreferendum.cz previously reported on an article in which Bělobrádek defends the output of the lead singer of the skinhead band Orlík, a piece called "Orlík oi! oi! or how Daniel Landa got his start".
"Hits like 'Faschos', 'Skinhead', 'Pivečko' (A Little Beer) or 'Bílej jezdec' (The White Rider) still entertain many of his peers even after 17 years. This doesn't have to have anything to do with skinheads, let alone with Nazis," Bělobrádek opens the piece. In his opinion, the poetics and toughness of Orlík, their "emphasis on national pride, their nationalism minus the class struggle, their sharp anti-communism, and their understandable frustration with the approach taken by the authorities toward the Roma (and the bad taste that leaves in society's mouth has not lessened much since then) is simply haunting".
Just so readers understand what he means, Bělobrádek has given us an explanation. "Yes, we were teenagers then, but Orlík was definitely not an anti-Semitic, homophobic, or Nazi band. Maybe the band was a bit primitive - definitely in a naive, simplified way it vented what a large number of young people were feeling in those days... Even though I am not a skinhead or a Hussite, not to mention a Nazi, I turn up the Orlík every now and then, and not just out of nostalgia," the successful municipal politician told Vratislav Dostál, who included the quote in a recent commentary for news server Deníkreferendum.cz .
Political scientist Lukáš Jelínek says Bělobrádek's nomination means the Christian Democrats now risk repeating the failed trajectory of their onetime chair Jiří Čunek. "If Bělobrádek wins this weekend, it will mean the victory of a superficial ideological perception of the world. His ideas come from the bottom of the barrel, and if he leads the Christian Democrats, their definitive marginalization awaits," Jelínek says.
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