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Czech Republic: Vandas re-elected DSSS chair

Prague, 9.3.2015 0:57, (ROMEA)
DSSS party leader Tomáš Vandas (in sunglasses) at a demonstration. (Photo:  František Kostlán)
DSSS party leader Tomáš Vandas (in sunglasses) at a demonstration. (Photo: František Kostlán)

The Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS) will be led for the next two years by its only chair to date, Tomáš Vandas (age 46). At the party's convention yesterday, 90 of the 92 delegates participating voted for him.  

Prior to the convention, there was a schism on the extreme right when Adam B. Bartoš, chair of the "No to Brussels - National Democracy" party (NE Bruselu - Národní demokracie, or NBND), verbally attacked the DSSS. The party was formed as the successor to the neo-Nazi Workers' Party (Dělnická strana - DS) after the DS was dissolved by the Czech courts.

Judges found that the party's ideas, program and symbols included chauvinistic and xenophobic elements and a racist subtext traceable to Adolf Hitler's ideology of National Socialism. The DS leadership was ready for the possiblity that the party would be dissolved and its functionaries and a significant portion of its membership base then moved to the DSSS.

The new party de facto continued the same activity as its predecessor, i.e., convening anti-Romani assemblies that frequently end in clashes with police or attempts to physically assault Romani people. Neither the DS nor its successor party has ever scored any significant successes in parliamentary elections.

The sole electoral success scored by the DSSS was in the recent local elections in Duchcov, where the party made it into the town leadership where, surprisingly, it formed a government together with the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) and the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM). Speaking at the end of yesterday's conference, Vandas told the Czech News Agency that his priorities will be combating immigration and the "Islamization" of the Czech Republic.

Vandas also said he intends to speak out against Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babiš and his ANO movement. The DSSS suports a law on referendums and is in favor of the Czech Republic leaving the EU.  

Jiří Štěpánek defended his place as Executive Vice-Chair of the DSSS. Erik Lamprecht, the chair of the Workers' Youth (Dělnická mládež), the DSSS youth organization, was once again elected to the five-member executive committee of the DSSS as well.

Schism on the far right:  Bartoš v. Vandas 

Just before the conference, a schism occurred on the far right when Adam B. Bartoš, a well-known anti-Semite and chair of the NBND, warned against re-electing Vandas to the head of the DSSS. In a message to DSSS members, he called Vandas a dupe and a secret service agent whose task is to keep the DSSS and other "pro-national" parties functioning at such a level that they will never be elected.

"We must end the Workers' Party agony together," Bartoš said, calling on DSSS members to join his party instead. Until 2009, the NBND chair worked for news server iDNES.cz, after which he began his own blog to promote his racist and xenophobic opinions.

Bartoš is a signatory of the D.O.S.T. initiative and makes no secret of his right-wing extremist opinions. He is infamous for publishing lists of people he considers "truth-lovers" [Translator's Note:  The term pravdoláskař or"truth-lover" in Czech is a derogatory reference to supporters of the late Czech President Havel] and has made remarks that many consider anti-Semitic.

The priest Tomáš Halík compared that list of "truth-lovers" to the Nazis' "List of Jews and their Accomplices". At the start of 2014, Bartoš was involved the birth of the NBND party, which was created by renaming the Law and Order (Právo a Spravedlnost - PaS) party.

Bartoš is very close to former Czech President Václav Klaus and current Czech President Miloš Zeman. In an interview for the Czech daily Lidové noviny published in December 2019, Klaus said that a piece of writing by Bartoš was a work of genius.

Zeman's staff used one of his pieces during the presidential campaign to malign his competitor, Karel Schwarzenberg. Information published by Zeman alleging that Schwarzenberg's wife Therese lives in a residence where images of the Nazi swastika and people giving the Nazi salute are still displayed was a direct citation from a hate piece by Bartoš, but the building at issue, Castle Hardegg in Austria, has not belonged to the Schwarzenberg family for almost 300 years.  

Collaboration between the DSSS and the NBND began in July 2014, when the parties combined to form the so-called "National Congress", representatives of which agreed to cooperate during the elections; the experiment ended six months later. The parties' joint campaign during the municipal elections was unsuccessful.    

DSSS conference venue attacked

Shortly before the start of the DSSS conference, an unidentified perpetrator or perpetrators broke windows on the building on U Kina Street in Praha-Modřany where the DSSS conference was to be held. Vandas claimed the incident was linked to the conference and said he believed anti-fasicsts were obviously behind it.  

Vandas is convinced that the aim of the nighttime attack was to shut down the conference, "Why, suddenly, just before we have a statewide conference, does the building become a target for such an attack the night before? In my opinion there is an evident connection," he told the Czech News Agency.

Police are investigating the matter as suspected property damage. A police spokesperson said the incident occurred when the venue was closed and caused no injuries.

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

Anticiganismus, Antisemitismus, Dělnická mládež, DS, DSSS, Extremism, Neo-Nazism, Racism



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