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October 20, 2021



Newest Czech party tries to exploit altercations between Vlax Romani families as part of its election campaign

27.8.2020 7:29
The website of the Tricolor movement. The slogan reads
The website of the Tricolor movement. The slogan reads "Czech Interests First". (August 2020)

Some opposition members of the local assembly of the city of Přerov unsuccesfully attempted to recall Mayor Petr Měřínský (ANO) on Monday. Those submitting the motion to recall him alleged that the mayor is dilatory about addressing the city's problems and is not fulfilling the points of the local coalition administration's program declaration.

The motion was filed by representatives of the political movement called "Tricolor", who did their best to score political points over the recent public conflicts between two Vlax Romani families there. The governing coalition of ANO, the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) and TOP 09 called the motion tendentious and refused to vote on it.

Those eventually in favor of removing the mayor were five assembly members, three voted against it, five abstained and 18 refused to cast a vote of any kind. The mayor called the agenda item proposing his dismissal a "comedy" because no written justification had been submitted to explain it.

The motion to recall the mayor was filed by Radek Pospíšilík, who was elected to the local assembly for the local "Prosperita" (Prosperity) association and who then became a member of Tricolor at the beginning of this year. "You are building a Potemkin village for the public, you talk about problems but you are not solving them," he said.

"We perceive the dissatisfaction among the residents of Přerov with how the situation is here," said Pospíšilík's fellow Tricolor member Libor Slováček. "This is a long-term situation."

"The last straw was the escalated strife between two groups of Vlax Roma where the decision was made to invite the Vlax king to mediate," Slováček said. "You indicated that our laws are not enough, that it's necessary to invite in some kind of king."

"Our patience has run out and therefore we are making this motion to recall [the mayor]," Slováček said. Opposition assembly members reproached the local coalition for not fulfilling their election promises, whether that be on the question of how the abandoned Hotel Strojař is to be used, resolving social problems in the city, developing a new parking concept or choosing a location for a new library.

The motion to recall the mayor was not, however, supported by opposition assembly member Helena Netopilová (Together for Přerov/Pirates). "I see this recall as a cheap gesture, a gesture directly related to the upcoming elections. I follow the Facebook pages of Tricolor and I do not at all like how Tricolor is exploiting the incident between the two Vlax Romani families," she said.

According to city leadership, the motion to recall the mayor was filed just because of the upcoming regional and Senate elections. "This is merely about the submitter getting publicity. It's difficult to see any other reason for it than publicity ahead of the elections, which will be in a couple of weeks. This is not something I intend to participate in," said Jakub Navařík of the ODS.

Navařík expressed amazement that the submitted motion lacked any written justification. "Whoever wants to beat a dog will find a stick," said assembly member Tomáš Dostál (KDU-ČSL) of the motion.

Dostál said he believes the motion to recall the mayor offered no solution and would just lead to destabilizing the city. The incidents between the two Vlax Romani families who were quarrelling happened in Přerov earlier this summer.

In July, city representatives met with representatives of both families at city hall, where the Vlax Roma declared they had settled their conflict. A few days prior, at the instigation of the city leadership and the Regional Coordinator for National Minorities, the family representatives had met with the Vlax king,  who appealed to them to end their dispute.

During a subsequent public hearing in the Municipal House, some people criticized the city leadership's approach to the issue. During the public discussion, some residents said they believed the mediation meant the law was not being applied equally.

The city leadership, however, is standing behind its approach. "There is a difference between two individuals fighting at a party and two Romani families quarrelling. Each extended family has 20 or 30 members, and it is difficult to prevent them from taking action. If we speak with family representatives, that can affect how the rest of the family behaves," local assembly member Petr Vrána (ANO) said at the time.

Law enforcement did respond to the incidents when they happened - including by using tear gas - and investigated them. The fact that a truce was brokered does not mean impunity for the brawlers, in other words.

ČTK, ryz, agw, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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