Czech Republic: Activists convince Romani voters in Krupka not to sell their votes
News server iDNES.cz reports that NGOs fighting corruption did their best this past weekend to convince local Romani voters in Krupka not to sell their votes in the upcoming local elections. The last municipal polls there had to be repeated three times because of vote-buying, and suspicions exist this year that the situation could repeat itself.
Dozens of Romani people attended a local debate on vote-buying in Krupka. They were mainly interested in finding out what they should do if someone threatened them in that context or where and how to convey their opinions to local politicians.
"Our ambition is not to convince them, but there is a need to speak with them about this and somone has to begin it," said Michal Voda of the "Our Politicians" (Naši politici) association, which organized the meeting for local Romani voters together with the Transparency International organization. "We want to clearly tell them that if they agree to take a bribe for their vote, it will ultimately go against them. People will be making decisions about them who do not sincerely have their interests at heart. Voters should be making their own decisions."
"If someone tells you they will give you money for your vote, feel free to tell them to go to hell and show them you can think for yourself," local Romani leader Jozef Miker said at the meeting, receiving applause from all involved. In his remarks Miker openly supported Transparency International and the Konexe civic association, which collaborates with Romani people in northern Bohemia.
During the last local elections, the parties most frequently suspected of bribing voters CZK 200 or CZK 300 for their votes were the ČSNS Association and the NK-Šance pro město (Independent Candidates - Chance for the Town) group led by Zdeněk Matouš, who ultimately became mayor. Matouš has always rejected allegations that he had anything to do with vote-buying.
This year Matouš is heading the Czech Social Democratic Party's local candidate list along with seven people from his original association. Speaking at a press conference last Friday he said the town hall will do everything it can to make sure there is no vote-buying in Krupka this time; the town hall leadership made the pledge in a joint declaration.
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