Czech election results in Romani neighborhoods
The polls have closed, the votes for the various parties have been counted, and the media are analyzing who might form the next government of the Czech Republic with whom. Let's look at how votes were cast in places where a large majority of Romani people live, as well as in the places where neo-Nazis and racists held their marches this past summer.
We begin with the Chanov housing estate in the town of Most, where electoral returns are always interesting and the victor usually comes in first by a large margin. The results of 2010 did not repeat themselves - Chanov made the "somewhat incomprehensible" choice of Jana Bobošíková's "Sovereignty" party that year, with candidate list leader Bronislav Schwarz receiving 100 % of the preferential votes cast.
This time Bobošíková, who was the leader of the "Head's Up!" voting bloc, received not a single vote. Schwarz ran this time for the ANO 2011 movement; the party won just one vote and Schwarz received no preferential votes.
The overwhelming victory in the Chanov housing estate this year went to the Social Democrats (ČSSD), who repeated their 2012 victory in the vote for the Regional Authorities. They won 88.54 % of the votes, with the communists coming in second at 3.12 %.
The Green Party came in third at Chanov with 1.56 % of the votes (i.e., just three). The candidates running there were two Romani men from the Equal Opportunities Party (SRP), Jozef Miker and Štefan Tišer.
Miker received two preferential votes and Tišer received one. Voter turnout at the Chanov housing estate was only 21.63 %.
The details of the votes cast for the ČSSD at Chanov are interesting. Two politicians there received most of the votes cast.
In the Czech system a voter can choose up to four preferred candidates on a party list. Petr Červenka received 145 preferential votes and Karel Novotný received 143 preferential votes.
The result is interesting in Novotný's case because that politician has made very harsh anti-Romani statements in the past. In 2009 Novotný initiated a petition protesting against the reduction in rents by 20 % at Chanov.
"This is like a signal to other renters - destroy your apartments and your rent will be reduced, this is is simply discrimination against decent people," Novotný said at the time. In 2010 the ČSSD in Most, led by Novotný, played on anti-Romani sentiment in a billboard campaign using the slogan "Why should I regret being from the national majority in my own homeland? One state, one set of rules!"
The national party leadership was asked to take down the controversial billboards. Representatives of Romani organizations and institutions involved with human rights and integration believed they were playing a dangerous game with hatred of minorities.
At the Maršov housing estate in the town of Krupka, which is a frequent target of right-wing extremists due to its large number of Romani residents, voter participation was once again very low, although it was more than during the 2012 elections, which saw a maximum turnout of 17 %. This year voter participation was almost 30 % in electoral district number 8 and almost 23 % in electoral district number 9.
The results of Krupka as a whole were ČSSD (21.6 %), followed by ANO 2011 (21.1 %) and the communists (18.55 %). At the Maršov housing estate, however, the communists were the victors (22.89 %) followed by the ČSSD (22.52 %) and ANO 2011 (17.83 %).
The Green Party, which had Equal Opportunities Party (SRP) candidates on its list, won only 100 votes in Krupka (2.1 %). Jozef Miker, a retired miner who is one of the leading figures of the Romani movement in the Czech Republic, received only eight preferential votes there, five of them in district number 9 at the Maršov housing estate, a disappointing result.
The ultra-right DSSS previously seated their only town councilors in the entire country in Krupka. That result was not repeated for them there, as they won just 3.3 % of the total vote in the municipality.
In the town of Duchcov it seemed, prior to the elections, that Romani people were active, that they would turn out for the polls, and that they would be voting for the SRP candidates who had helped them in collaboration with the Konexe association during this year's anti-Romani marches there. Instead, Romani voters in Duchcov seem to have also chosen to stay home.
In district number 1, which lies in the southern part of town where Romani people live and where the anti-Romani marches were targeted, the communists won with 21.13 % of the vote. Second place went to the ultra-right DSSS (18.45 %), third to the ČSSD (15.77 %), while the Green Party and Equal Opportunities Party candidates won a mere five votes (1.48 %).
In Duchcov as a whole the communists were the victors (22.22 %) and the DSSS came in fourth with 9.26 %. Local racist leader Jindřich Svoboda received more preferential votes there than DSSS chair Tomáš Vandas.
The Green Party received 70 votes total there (2.16 %), with SRP chair Štefan Tišer receiving two preferential votes. Despite his personal engagement in responding to the anti-Romani marches in Duchcov, Jozef Miker did not receive a single preferential vote there.
Another place where racist anti-Romani marches took place this summer was the Máj housing estate in the town of České Budějovice, where V. Volfa Street was perceived as a bastion of Romani residents. That street is covered by electoral districts number 27 and number 28, with a total of 2 274 eligible voters, 974 of whom turned out (42.83 %).
Those two districts were won by the ČSSD (20.91 %), the communists in second place (19.77 %) and ANO 2011 in third (17.60 %). The ultra-right DSSS did not receive even 1 % of the vote either in the town as a whole or at the Máj housing estate.
The elections also produced an interesting result in Obrnice, which is considered an example of good coexistence between Czechs and Romani people. Just prior to the elections, the town won a Europe-wide competition sponsored by the Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion, which is part of the Council of Europe.
"Years of accumulated, unsolved problems in coexistence between long-term residents and the Romani community had paralyzed all efforts to develop and improve the municipality," Mayor Drahomíra Miklošová (Civic Democrats - ODS) commented. "In concert with the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion, municipally-funded organizations and nonprofits, we have succeeded in finding an effective recipe for at least minimizing these longstanding problems, if not eliminating them altogether."
The municipality has a population of not quite 2 500, 40 % of whom are of Romani nationality. Electoral results there show that it is not just anti-Romani rhetoric that scores political points.
The ODS came in second place in Obrnice with 21.25 % of the vote, an astronomically high number compared to their results in the state as a whole. First place went to the communists (28.83 %) and third place to the ČSSD (17.74 %).
In the Předlice quarter of Ústí nad Labem, as is traditional, Romani people did not turn out to vote. In electoral district number 14, which includes Beneše Lounského, Prostřední and Řeháčkova Streets, voter turnout was a mere 18.64 %.
Of 896 eligible voters, only 167 cast ballots and only 159 of them were considered valid. The ČSSD won with 62.89 % of the vote ahead of the communists with 15.75 %.
As news server Romea.cz has previously reported, 20 Romani men and women ran for the lower house this year, but none were elected. Five Romani people ran for the Romani Democratic Party (Romská democratická strana - RDS), which fielded candidates only in the Central Bohemian and Liberec Regions, coming in last place in the Central Bohemian Region with 395 votes (0.06 %) and next to last in the Liberec Region with 213 votes (0.1 %).
The Equal Opportunities Party (SRP) nominated seven of its members to run on the Green Party candidate lists, and those candidates won a total of 1 370 preferential votes. The SRP candidate with the most preferential votes was boxing trainer Stanislav Tišer in Prague (630 votes), followed by Čeněk Růžička (194) and Elena Gorolová (131).
Of the Romani candidates who ran on other parties' lists, the most successful was David Beňák, who won 2 275 preferential votes in Prague, but was not seated. Two Green Party candidates, Lucie Horváthová and David Tišer, also did well, with Horváthová receiving 370 preferential votes in Pardubice Region and David Tišer receiving 271 votes in Plzeň Region.
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