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Czech Social Democrats in Most decide xenophobic billboards will stay put

Most, 17.9.2010 10:06, (ROMEA)

The Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) cell in Most has unanimously decided to leave up its billboards with the xenophobic slogan “Why should I regret being the majority nationality in my homeland?" Acting party chair Bohuslav Sobotka had requested the controversial election advertisements be taken down, reports news server iDNES.cz.

The decision to leave the billboards up in Most was made by 19 representatives of the local cell and campaign staff. Three announced beforehand that they wanted the campaign to continue: Ticket leader Karel Novotný; head of the party cell in Most, Lubomír Holý; and the Vice-Chair of the party cell, Czech MP Josef Tancoš. In the end the vote was 19:0 in favor of leaving the billboards up.

"I would definitely do a campaign like this again. Yes, it’s controversial, but eventually we hope to address what it’s drawing attention to,” said Novotný, who sees pressure from advisors and the media as having been behind a change of heart for Sobotka, who initially supported the campaign. "Someone seems to have created pressure on him through the media. He probably has some advisor telling him it’s not completely kosher, that Social Democrats shouldn’t be saying something like this,” Czech daily MF DNES quotes Novotný as saying.

"Everyone present unanimously agreed that the slogan 'Why should I regret being the majority nationality in my homeland? One state, one set of rules!’ is in no way aimed against any national minority or group, and we strenuously object to the opinion that this slogan has a racist subtext and encourages anti-Roma sentiment,” the Most cell said in a press release.

According to ČSSD, the slogan is a response to a local election issue, namely, that some inhabitants of the Chanov locality have been given advantages over others. “Their rents were reduced by 20 % even though the vast majority of tenants were in default and had devastated the buildings and apartments. We are aware that the slogan is on the border of what is acceptable or tolerable, but our aim is to draw attention to the fact that these groups of inadaptable inhabitants must not and cannot be given advantages. It has now been decided through a completely unanimous vote that the billboards with the slogan will stay up throughout the campaign,” reads the party press release, signed by Karel Novotný.

Gwendolyn Albert, kos, MF DNES, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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