Czech extremists across the board want Zeman for president
Both left and right-wing extremists have expressed their support for candidate Miloš Zeman in the upcoming presidential election. The ultra-left Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (Komunistická strana Československa - KSČ), led by the pre-1989 communist boss Miroslav Štěpán, has given Zeman its backing. At a party congress this past weekend, the leader of the ultra-right extremist Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS), Tomáš Vandas, expressed his support for Zeman as well.
"I personally see this as a choice between the lesser of two evils - we understand one of them because he knows how to speak Czech. The other one we don't understand at all without subtitles, he's just some muttering duke," Vandas said at the party's fifth statewide congress in Prague. "I personally - and it pains me greatly to say this - will have to support Miloš Zeman. I don't want German to be spoken at Prague Castle, I don't want a foreign flag to fly there, I don't want some drowsy duke who needs a couch to lie down on everywhere he goes, that will be the shame of the Czech Republic." The recommendation to vote for Zeman has also been published on the official DSSS website.
The ultra-left extremists in the KSČ make no secret of their xenophobia either, writing the following on their website: "As we stated in our internal party newspaper Czechoslovak Communist - SPARK (Československý komunista – JISKRA), no. 155/2012, we Communists also consider ourselves responsible for participating in the direct election of the president and contributing to the final result. We have expressed our position through the slogan "ZEMAN TO THE CASTLE!" ("ZEMAN NA HRAD!") and we recommend everyone participate in this election. Now, prior to the second round of the direct election of the president, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia calls on not only its own voters who supported the party during the regional and senate elections but on all citizens of the Czech Republic who are not indifferent to the fate of our country to give their vote to the winner of the first round, the Czech MILOŠ ZEMAN. We are urgently appealing to the voters in this matter because the election of K. Schwarzenberg, a descendant of the post-White Mountain aristocracy and a significant representative of the cosmopolitan global bourgeoisie, would undoubtedly open up the way for Czech cultural, economic and political interests to be subordinated to the interests of the international bourgeoisie. After all, he recently went so far as to question the validity of the Beneš Decrees. The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, which was founded in 1921, calls on all citizens of the Czech Republic to support the candidacy of ING. MILOŠ ZEMAN, CSc. in the interests of the people here and of our country. Do not allow our small nation to be ground to pieces in the machinery of the pan-European area."
If you don't vote Zeman, you're not a Czech
Zeman's campaign team may even have started playing the nationalism card itself. News server iDNES.cz reports that in several senior citizens' homes in the town of České Budějovice, fliers have been posted supporting Zeman that contain information so biased as to be deceptive. According to political scientists, such agitation crosses the line of both ethics and taste.
"If you don't vote Zeman, you're not a Czech" announces one flier bearing the official logo of Zeman's campaign. The text describes the former PM as a politician who is fighting against bark-beetle infestation, who is against amnesties and restitutions, and who is in favor of free education and health care. The reverse of the pamphlet shows a sleeping Karel Schwarzenberg and accuses him of harming the Czech Republic: "He agrees that basic health care should be provided to citizens in exchange for overpriced fees. He is demanding the restitution of his feudal holdings, i.e., he wants us to pay him rent and work for him." Readers of the pamphlet are also told that Schwarzenberg is an advocate for saving the bark-beetle and refuses to take action against corruption.
Jan Bulvas, director of the retirement home, does not like the campaign. "Zeman's promoters have chosen a method of support that is based on half-truths and lies on a flier distributed among senior citizens with the unequivocal aim of tarnishing the other candidate. It just looks like dirty tricks to me," Bulvas said. "The measure of one's Czechness definitely does not consist of voting Zeman president of the republic, as this lying flier states."
News server iDNES.cz reports that political scientists have also expressed alarm, not over the format of the pamphlets, but over their content. "If these fliers were officially distributed by Zeman's campaign, it's alarming and desperate," said Salim Murad, a political scientist at South Bohemian University (Jihočeská univerzita). "Such fliers go beyond any ethical boundaries. It's on the level of spreading a false alarm." It is not yet clear whether the fliers came directly from Zeman's central office or whether local supporters produced them.
Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) in North Bohemia also plays the nationalist card
The ČSSD leadership in the Ústí Region has put together recommendations instructing voters that the choice between Schwarzenberg and Zeman is a question of patriotism. That same branch of the party has previously published racist attacks against Romani people.
Regional party vice-chair Jaroslav Foldyna justifies his recommendation that patriots vote for Zeman with reference to the Beneš Decrees, which Schwarzenberg clumsily commented on during a televised debate. News server iDNES.cz quotes Foldyna as saying that "Patriots should vote for Miloš Zeman because Schwarzenberg has distanced himself from the Beneš Decrees".
During the televised debate between the presidential candidates, Schwarzenberg said the Beneš Decrees are no longer valid. The following day he clarified that he had meant to say they have legally expired.
"The Sudeten German card is played prior to every presidential election. It is always repeated without much consequence, but this time it was exaggerated," iDNES.cz quotes Zdeněk Zbořil of the Political Science Institute at Charles University's Philosophy Faculty as saying of efforts to turn the decrees into an electoral issue.
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