Czech Interior Minister says MP is lying about foreign nationals voting
Czech MP Tomio Okamura (SPD), the vice-chair of the lower house and chair of the populist, xenophobic SPD party, announced on his official Facebook profile on Sunday that "Foreigners without Czech citizenship will newly be able to vote in the Czech Republic and run for office!" He also accused the new Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamáček of having instituted the measures immediately upon taking office.
Ever since the Czech Republic joined the EU in 2004 it has been the case that the only "foreigners" who can vote there are citizens of EU Member States residing on Czech territory. Such persons are only allowed to vote during local elections.
Okamura has deceptively posted the following to his official profile: "Foreigners without Czech citizenship will newly be able to vote in the Czech Republic and run for office! Just a couple of days after the minister and Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) chair Jan Hamáček occupied the Interior Ministry, he is beginning to run amok. The ministry will make it possible, in this October's local elections, for foreigners to vote in the Czech Republic and also to vote for a foreigner (!!) who does not have Czech citizenship. The SPD movement fundamentally disagrees with this."
Hamáček responded to Okamura's manipulative communication by accusing him of lying. "The right to vote is held only by citizens of European Union Member States who are resident on Czech territory, and only in local elections!" the Interior Minister responded.
"This is nothing new. Citizens of the Czech Republic living elsewhere in the EU have been able to take advantage of this right since 2004, just like the citizens of other EU Member States residing in the Czech Republic," Hamáček continued.
"The situation is the same, for example, in Poland, Hungary and Slovakia. This right is held by all EU citizens and has been anchored in its founding treaties since 1997, it applies throughout the entire EU and applies to local elections only," the Interior Minister explained.
"EU citizens are not able to vote in elections for the legislature or the presidency. This right is being exercised in the Czech Republic on the order of several dozen voters (200 maximum)," the Interior Minister said.
Okamura's party was included in the annual Report on Extremism for 2017, produced by the Department of Security Policy and Crime Prevention at the Interior Ministry, which has yet to be approved for publication but was leaked to the media some time ago. "While the SPD movement is not an extremist entity according to the definition used by the Interior Ministry, it does choose similar subject matter as that chosen by right-wing extremists and not infrequently adopts similar opinions to theirs about it," the report says.
"In some cases, SPD representatives have expressed themselves even more radically than have the extremist parties on the right as traditionally understood," the report says. The authors also found that Okamura's anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim remarks in 2017 were not the first time that he has abused xenophobic rhetoric.
Previously, during a period of greatly exacerbated anti-Romani atmosphere in the country, Okamura deviated toward antigypsyist statements. According to the report, the SPD movement has unambiguously influenced the form of the domestic extremist scene.
Each entity involved with that scene has had to redefine itself somehow in relation to the party. Extremist groups on the right as traditionally understood perceive the SPD as their competition and were aware during 2017 that this different entity was entering their traditional area of activity.
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