Czech local elections to repeat, Romani residents sold their votes
The Regional Court in Brno has decided that the elections in the municipal department of Brno-sever are invalid and will be repeated. The court considers it to have been proven that dozens of Romani people voted for Mayor Rostislav Hakl (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) because they received entrance to a party with free beverages and food in exchange for their votes.
The court believes the Romani voters did not participate in the elections of their own free will. Its verdict says as much.
"The court is of the opinion that voters were bribed to such an extent that if the bribery had not occurred, the results for the elections to the Council of the Municipal Department Brno-sever would have been different," said Judge David Raus. The motion to invalidate the elections was filed by Councilor Petr Hladík (Christian Democrats).
Hladík objected to the fact that dozens of Romani voters received money in exchange for their votes in addition to free entry to the party. The event was organized by Adam Adámek, who reportedly just wanted to instruct Romani people on how to vote so they would be better off.
Adámek testified in court that he considered Romani participation important. "I did not tell them they had to vote for anyone. When they asked me, I told them that I would be voting for Hakl and that I recommended him," Adámek said earlier.
The court took precisely that information into account. "Romani voters did actually vote for Mayor Hakl. They did so because Adam Adámek recommended him, and in exchange for their participation in the elections he promised them free entry to a party and free food," the ruling reads.
The DROM Romani center was also listed on the poster advertising the party as an organizer. Director Miroslav Zima, however, said DROM only provided voter training to members of the community as part of a project to improve Romani participation.
"We held the training because we wanted to instruct Romani people on how to go to the polls and vote. We gave them basic information, for example, that they should have their identification with them, how to complete a ballot, etc.," Zima told news server Romea.cz.
"Under no circumstances did we ever tell anyone which candidates to vote for. We honor democracy and the democratic process, which is why we held the training in the first place," he said.
Zima says the party was Adámek's idea, and DROM wanted to cheer those who attended the voter training that Friday at the Musilka cultural center by having the organization's dance ensemble perform for them. Adámek's party did not take place there until Saturday.
"When Adam Adámek began to organize the party, he made that poster. We didn't much care for it - and posters don't reach anyone these days - but he was the one who linked our voter training to his party," Zima told Romea.cz.
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