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Czech party revives anti-Romani slogan - "Gadje, get to work" - in Ústecký Region, and wins

9.10.2016 20:12
A still photo from the ODS party's racist election video posted online on 1 October 2016.
A still photo from the ODS party's racist election video posted online on 1 October 2016.

The Civic Democratic Party (ODS) in Ústecký Region has revived a racist slogan from 2008 and struck an anti-Romani note in the run-up to this weekend's elections. The video clip published on the official Facebook page of the party begins with the sentence "Hey, gadje, why do you have time to sit down? Get to work so we'll have enough money for welfare!"

The term "gadje" in the Romanes language refers to non-Romani people. The video continues by showing a Romani man entering a gambling room and losing all of his money (supposedly from welfare) at the slot machines together with other Roma.

"I am disgusted by what the political parties in this republic are willing to stoop to in order to take back the helm. Unfortunately, the welfare system in the Czech Republic was designed by the ODS, and that's why I believe the entire ODS should stay quiet on the topic of welfare," Romani activist Michal Miko said on 1 October.

This is not the first time the ODS in that region has conducted an anti-Romani, racist campaign with the "Gadje, get to work" theme. In 2008, then-Governor Jiří Šulc (ODS) posted billboards with the slogan "Gadje, get to work so we can be better off!" around the region.

At the time that campaign prompted many reactions of disagreement and the police even began to investigate the slogan. The conclusion was reached, however, that the campaign was lawful.

Former Governor Šulc, who inveighed against his idea of Romani people as living off of others, ultimately ended up in court himself over corruption in connection with the use of EU funds. Unfortunately, the ODS scored a victory with the campaign slogan this year, including in a town with a large Romani population.

News server Romea.cz reports that in the town of Obrnice, where approximately 40 % of the population is Romani, the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) won with almost 30 % of the votes. In actual numbers that means just 89 votes cast for the party.

Voter turnout in Obrnice was just 18.64 %, which means that out of a total number of 1 658 voters, just 309 cast a ballot. It is a question, therefore, how many Romani residents voted for them, especially after the ODS used the anti-Romani video spot.

Paradoxically, Drahomíra Miklošová, the mayor of Obrnice who was in second place on the ODS regional candidate list this weekend, was given an award by the Council of Europe in 2013 for policies that ostensibly set a good example on Romani integration. We will never know whether these results mean Romani residents of Obrnice are so well-integrated that they joined the 80 % of registered voters in Obrnice who couldn't even be bothered to turn out, but in any event some of the mayor's subsequent statements since winning the award, such as her statements in favor of municipalities being able to ban individuals from residing on their territory, have demonstrated a less than strong grasp of human rights principles.

"It is possible to integrate and to run many programs when there is just a certain proportion of our Romani fellow citizens in the community, but if we reach 50 %, it is almost unmanageable," the mayor said last year. In her view, is is possible to "cope" with a municipality where 30 % of the inhabitants are Romani, but the basic premise should be that the local government gets the final word about who lives on the territory:  "I want to decide who we can register here and who not."

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Kampaň, ODS, Populism, Racism, Volby



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