Czech intelligence service warns political parties may adopt extremist opinions
In its annual report released today on its website, the Czech Security Information Service (Bezpečnostní informační služba - BIS) warns that standard political parties in the country may start taking up extremist opinions, especially at municipal level. BIS says that while the extremists themselves are becoming attenuated, political parties might exploit their opinions in order to earn the votes of people who are dissatisfied and frustrated, for example, because of the economic crisis.
BIS believes it is now possible to observe the demise of typical extremist activities based in certain ideologies. Reportedly, both ultra-right neo-Nazism and left-wing Marxism-Leninism currently pose a minimal risk to Czech democracy.
However, the intelligence analysts believe the fact remains that social problems connected to ethnicity need to be resolved, as does coexistence between the majority society and minorities. Such problems could lead "to a further growth of tension in certain areas."
"Moreover, there is the risk that even standard political parties, particularly at municipal level, will gradually adopt the rhetoric or some of the stances of the extremists and exploit them in the course of their own political struggles," the counter-intelligence service writes. BIS believes some political parties might gradually radicalize out of concern they might otherwise lose voters.
The government must stop approaching ethnic problems so "gingerly" and stop avoiding "a real description of the existing problems", the service proposes. "It is necessary to abandon the constant academic debates that lead nowhere and focus on specific projects and practical matters," they write.
Such an approach is reportedly the only way to take on the extremists' arguments and therefore reduce their popularity. According to the counter-intelligence service, sharp distinctions between left-wing and right-wing extremism are also slowly losing relevance.
Democracy can be threatened by a rise among the population of general distrust in the notion that democratic principles actually work. BIS sees the cause of such distrust as lying in the impacts of the economic crisis, the government's budget cuts, various corruption scandals, and bureaucrats or politicians' lack of personal responsibility for their actions.
"This leads, among a significant proportion of people, to frustration, a sense of powerlessness, and the sense that there is no way out of the current situation," BIS reports. Various groups could then exploit this to achieve their own aims of attempting to break down democracy in the Czech Republic.
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