Czech ultra-nationalists establish political nonprofit think-tank to support "patriots"
The movement of Tomio Okamura (the SPD) now has its own political think-tank into which it can draw contributions from the state on the order of millions of crowns, a new "Institute of Freedom and Direct Democracy", located in the center of Prague, led by the unsuccessful leader of the Prague SPD candidate list from last year's parliamentary elections, Josef Nerušil. The SPD announced plans to establish the political institute last autumn.
Due to its electoral gain, the movement can count on the institute funding its operations with an amount exceeding CZK 3 million [EUR 117 000] from the state, and according to information published in the Commercial Register, the SPD think-tank wants to carry out "educational, training, publishing and cultural activities in the field of democracy development, the rule of law, pluralism of opinion and the protection of fundamental human rights". These stated goals are in line with how the scope of political institutes is defined by law.
The stated ambition to "develop civil society and social cohesion", also contained in the charter of the SPD, is also lawful. In addition, the institute and the Okamurites are also announcing their "support for nationally and patriotically-oriented currents of society, support for the personal and economic freedoms of the individual" or "development of the concept of direct democracy", and say they want to establish contacts with similarly-oriented organizations abroad and organize "popularization seminars".
Culture warriors against "non-profits"
The very fact that the SPD is setting up a non-profit organization to be funded with state support is paradoxical, as it is Okamura's party that has been attacking what it has called "political non-profits" for many years and saying it wants to cut them off from any Government revenue. The institute's stated democratic, legally-defined direction, in turn, is contradicted by the fact that the SPD has repeatedly been mentioned in Czech Interior Ministry reports on extremism.
The same goes for their stated aim of "strengthening social cohesion" - the SPD has long established itself as a polarizing party not just by using rhetoric that is openly anti-Muslim or xenophobic, but also specifically anti-American and anti-German. The director of the institute will be Josef Nerušil, a former employee of the Prague Archbishopric who until last year was also a member of the governing board of public broadcaster Czech Radio.
Nerušil left both positions before the parliamentary elections, when it became clear that he was running for the SPD movement. He failed as the leader of the Prague candidate list and did not get into the Chamber of Deputies.
However, Nerušil did become an assistant to Czech MP Jiří Kobza. The headquarters of the institute will be in the Lesser Quarter (Malá Strana), in the same building where Nerušil operates a private wine bar (Jánský vršek 350/2, Malá Strana, 118 00 Praha 1).
The article was first written in Czech for the Institute of Independent Journalism, which is an independent, non-profit organization and registered institute involved with information provision, news and journalism. It offers articles, analyses or data outputs to everyone without distinction for use under predetermined conditions.
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