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May 26, 2022



First post-communist Czech Romany party to end activity

Prague, 18.12.2008 21:15, (ROMEA)

The Romany Civic Initiative (ROI), the first Romany political party in the Czech Republic after the 1989 fall of communism, will probably end its activities.

The ROI is one of the seven parties the Supreme Administrative Court is expected to abolish. The court is also to make a decision on suspending activities of 15 political movements.

The proposal for the abolition of certain parties and suspension of activities of others due to inactivity or the failure to fulfil administrative duties was approved by the government on Tuesday.

"The ROI has been passive for many years and it de facto does not exist," Pavel Pecinka, political scientist and editor-in-chief of the Romano Hangos magazine, told CTK today.

He said that disputes between various groups, opinion streams and family clans were behind the current situation in the party that had actually ceased to exist.

Romany will probably lose their first party that has been a sole one for many years.

In April, the Supreme Administrative Court also abolished the Romany Democratic Social Party.

According to Pecinka, the failure of the Romany political parties is caused by the border between ordinary Romanies and Romany elites and between clans and families.

"Many Romanies from ghettoes have little information, they are not even interested in Romany newspapers and there is no civic engagement among them," Pecinka said.

In 2001 the party only had 150 members while at the beginning of the 1990s it had an unbelievable, from the current viewpoint, 60,000 members, Pecinka said.

"Instead of the expected unification of Romanies a split has happened. It was caused, on the one hand, by the caste barriers between the largest group of Slovak Romanies, smaller groups of Olah Romanies and absolutely marginal groups of Czech and Moravian groups of Romanies who had abandoned the nomadic style of life and have settled. On the other hand, it was caused by disputes between large families within these three branches," Pecinka wrote previously in his analysis of the situation in the ROI.

The Romany party had its biggest successes in the time of the post-communist euphoria. In the June 1990 elections eight of its representatives were elected deputies on the ticket of the Civic Forum (OF), the first umbrella democratic movement after the fall of communism

Renowned lawyer Klara Samkova, Karel Holomek and Ondrej Gina were among Romany deputies.

However, in the 1992 elections the ROI failed and did not receive even half a percent of votes. The only Romany, Ladislav Body, was elected deputy on the Left Bloc (LB) party's list of candidates.

In 1998, the Freedom Union (US) considered placing ROI candidates on its ticket but talks between the two parties finally failed, Pecinka writes.

Nevertheless, Romanies managed to have their representative elected to the Chamber of Deputies thanks to US. Romany Monika Horakova, who was not proposed by the ROI, was elected a deputy.

In 2000, ROI leader Emil Scuka became president of the International Romany Union (IRU). After many years of leadership he was replaced by Stefan Licartovsky. However, the party lost the trust of its last supporters after Licartovsky signed an agreement with the far-right National Democratic Party (NDS) on "solving social questions."

According to Jan Kopal, who was then LDS chairman, the party promised Licartovsky that it would give the ROI 800,000 crowns for its cooperation if it won at least 1.5 percent of votes and would thus be entitled to a state election subsidy.

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