David Tišer, candidate for Czech lower house: Roma interests can only be guaranteed by sitting in Parliament
Despite the fact that no Romani movements or parties are fielding candidates in this year's Parliamentary elections, some Romani people are running on the candidate lists of other groups. News server Romea.cz is publishing interviews with each Romani candidate.
Our first interview is with David Tišer, an activist for LGBT and Romani rights who is also a theater director. He is running in 13th place on the Prague candidate list of the Green Party.
Q: What makes the Green Party (Strana zelených - SZ) different from other political parties? Does it offer something they do not?
A: We are the only political party that has long advocated for human rights and dedicated attention to that as a priority.
Q: Let's talk about the SZ electoral program. What are you personally bringing with you into politics?
A: I am decidedly contributing my convictions and my determination that if I want something to change, the most appropriate opportunity for that is to be the direct initiator of the change I seek.The most important areas that require strong changes are the subejcts I have chosen as my priorities. They are: The adoption of a law on social housing, introducing inclusive education into practice, regulating collections agencies, and giving equal rights to same-sex families.
Q: Recently we have been encountering those subjects - allowing adoption by gay couples and equality for same-sex families - in the Czech media. What do you want to achieve?
A: The current form of registered partnership does not provide anywhere near the legal certainties of a traditional marriage. Same-sex couples are discriminated against especially by the fact that they are not allowed to adopt children or to collect a pension as a widow/er. For that reason, we are advocating full recognition of the relationship between persons of the same sex by allowing them to marry. The ability of a parent to be a caregiver depends on the parent's interest in the well- being of the children, on love, on patience, not on our sex.
Q: One part of the program is that you want, as a party, to address social housing and social services even for the most impoverished citizens. What does the Green Party intend to do to improve the housing situation of those most in need?
A: We are advocating for a law on social housing and we are supporting municipalities to offer affordable social apartments and related services. We will end the trafficking in poverty at the residential hotels and in the socially excluded localities. We will revive the offer of public rental housing by building apartments, especially ones where the standard will be a low energy consumption design. We will also support municipalities to buy and reconstruct apartments.
Q: As far as I know, other parties have previously put addressing social housing on their programs also, so why are we not managing to significantly improve conditions in the areas where so-called socially vulnerable citizens live?
A: For many Romani families an apartment or residential hotel in a socially excluded locality is the only opportunity they have to access housing at all, primarily because of the extreme discrimination here. The current support for housing from the state consists essentially just of disbursing benefits and supplements. The owners of apartments or residential hotels mine that resource in the socially excluded localities, by offering absolutely substandard accommodations for exorbitant prices. The existing situation is disadvantageous not just for the people who very often must survive with their children in the residential hotels, but also for the state, which essentially is subsidizing these traffickers in poverty. Reducing benefits and subsidies for housing would change nothing about the essence of this situation - instead of affecting the business people who own the residential hotels it would just affect the most impoverished and vulnerable. It is good to realize that for many Romani families, an apartment or residential hotel in a socially excluded locality is the only opportunity they have to access any housng at all, primarily because of the extreme discrimination they face on a daily basis. The essence of this problem can only be resolved by offering social housing. Suitable accommodation will aid these people with standing on their own two feet, and what's more, the state will save money. To get people out of poverty once and for all costs less than paying rents for them their entire lives.
Q: Where, in your opinion, does citizens' low trust in politicians come from?
A: I am not convinced that this is just about citizens' lack of trust. The low participation of potential voters reflects their lack of interest in public policy because they see it as something very distant from them, some that does not directly concern them. Those who do not vote frequently allege that their vote will not decide anything. Then there is another group, no less numerous, who assert that they "don't want to gamble with their vote" by giving it to candidates from parties whom they would otherwise cast their ballots for, but whom they believe will not get into Parliament even so.
Q: There are some other candidates who are not from the environment of politics, such as Anna Chválová (SZ), Vojtěch Kelt (Order of the Nation - Řád Národa) and others. Why should voters vote for a Romani candidate?
A: In my opinion the deciding factor should not be whether Romani candidates come from a political environment - what is much more important is what kinds of changes they want to push for. I am convinced that the only guarantee that the interests and needs of Romani people will be promoted is for them to be seated in Parliament.
Q: Are Romani people on candidate lists at all electable if most of them don't make it into the top 10?
A: Let's test that together! If you're voting in Prague, circle # 13!
Q: What would you consider to be a success in these parliamentary elections?
A: If, after quite a long hiatus, were were to finally seat a Romani man or woman in the Czech Parliament.
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