romea - logo
July 4, 2022



Prominent Romani figures in Czech Republic on the presidential vote

Prague, 14.1.2013 17:59, (ROMEA)
Presidential candidates Karel Schwarzenberg and Miloš Zeman appearing on the Czech Television program
Presidential candidates Karel Schwarzenberg and Miloš Zeman appearing on the Czech Television program "Václav Moravec's Questions" (Otázky Václava Moravce). (PHOTO: Czech Television)

The historic first round of direct presidential elections in the Czech Republic this past Friday and Saturday has determined who will compete for votes during the second round. The electorate and the electorate alone is now responsible for choosing the head of state.

In my purely subjective opinion, this second round of elections will see a lower voter turnout. Some people whose candidates did not make it to the second round and who cannot identify with either Karel Schwarzenberg or Miloš Zeman apparently will not cast a second vote. On the other hand, it is possible these results will prompt other voters who slept through the first round to participate now.

The decision to be made is no longer just about the candidates, but about who will be the next head of state, who will lead the country (even though the powers of the office are limited). Will it be to the left or to the right?

News server has contacted five prominent Romani people from all over the country, representing various generations and political preferences and summarized their opinions on the reasons why they are going to vote and why they believe most Romani people won't. We also asked whom they voted for during the first round and whom they will choose in the second - and what criteria they are using for that decision.

ruzicka-cenek-anketni.jpgČeněk Růžička,

founder and chair of the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust (Výbor pro odškodnění obětí romského holocaustu), a nonprofit organization

Any election influencing my family's life is important to me. It's important for a feeling of belonging to this country, and also so I won't regret not voting for the candidate of my choice. By voting I am also legitimizing any eventual criticism I might make of politicians who abuse their positions to launch crude criticisms against Romani people and poor people in general.

The majority of Romani people, as is known, don't feel the need to vote yet, unfortunately. They are not aware that it is important, for example, to choose between the lesser of two evils. Moreover, most of them live on the edge of poverty. This is the community whom the 1989 revolution cost the most. Politicians across the spectrum are responsible for adopting antisocial laws that concern their very existence.

All one has to do is look at how politicians vote and recall their public statements, but many Romani people do not follow politics systematically at all. Most live on the edge of poverty and I understand they don't think about the elections at all. Most of the day is spent thinking about how to feed their children tomorrow.

I was not surprised by the overall results of the vote. I think it's very difficult to choose between the second-round candidates. I make no secret of the fact that I voted for Jiří Dientsbier in the first round.

Schwarzenberg and Zeman are very similar in my opinion - I emphasize, this is my personal opinion. I will pay great attention to what they say and how they present themselves, to their facial expressions, their gestures. I will search my memory, I will reflect on their positions, and I hope I will not regret my eventual choice.

balazova-jana-anketni.jpgJana Balážová,

field social worker with the IQ Roma service nonprofit organization in Brno

I always vote, my family brought me up that way. My parents, and logically my siblings too, have always followed political events, so we know who and what are influencing our lives and how - and the president of the republic is part of that, after all. I have the right to vote and I make use of it. It gives me the feeling that I am doing my best to somehow participate in determining the direction of the country in which we live and raise our children.

I work as a field social worker and I know from my own experience that unfortunately, many Romani people still do not vote. It's hard to have to say this is the case on average, in general - but mainly, it's hard to explain. I don't know why it is. Maybe people were not taught how to vote by their families, maybe it's because some people have completely different concerns, economic ones. However, I am unpleasantly surprised by people who are far from badly off and who still don't vote. They always just say everything has already been decided, or that their votes don't count.

I know that in both the older and the younger generations there are, understandably, people who do take voting very seriously. They follow the candidates in any election, the debates on television, and they study their platforms.

I considered the presidential election very important, if only because we finally can choose our own president directly. I don't believe the choice has been a poor one. Unfortunately, I voted for a candidate who, surprisingly, did not make it to the second round, and I am sorry, because I was certain about his position on several issues, including his position on minorities, from his previous political engagement. That was basically how I made my decision. It was also important for me to believe, to be convinced, that he was a decent candidate, that his hands weren't dirty from corruption or assisting corruption and that he wouldn't be silent about it.

This second round is a bit more complicated for me - not in deciding, I'm clear about whom to choose - but because I would have preferred to see a different final set of candidates, but that's reality. That's part of politics too.

koky-cyril-anketni.jpgCyril Koky,

Central Bohemian Regional Coordinator for Romani Affairs and Foreigner Integration

I probably won't surprise you when I note that the course of the election sometimes reminded me a bit of a practical joke done in the "American style", but I also appreciate that the first round took place completely without problems or big clashes - moreover, I am very glad that the first direct presidential elections have taken place in the Czech Republic, elections in which all of the citizens could choose a candidate themselves.

I voted for Jan Fischer. It's a shame he didn't succeed, he certainly would have been a good president.

The duel between Schwarzenberg and Zeman during the second round will certainly be interesting, but I have not yet made a firm decision on whom to support. Nevertheless, I have to say that the fact that one of the candidates for head of state doesn't speak fluent Czech seems a bit ridiculous to me.

tonelli-robert-anketni.jpgRobert Toneli,

entrepreneur and student

I was very disappointed by the first round of the presidential elections - so disappointed that I will not cast a vote in the second one. The two candidates who made it aren't much to choose between, in my personal opinion. Both candidates are experienced politicians in the European mold, I don't deny that, they have long been engaged in high politics, but they have already shown us what they know, and it definitely has not always been only for the good.

The office of the president should be held by a person who is really top-drawer, who radiates positive energy, sincerity, seriousness, and political experience. It should be a person who knows how to handle questions of international politics as well, who is a friend of the European Union and other international institutions. My candidate for the office of the president was Jiří Dienstbier, who meets all of those parameters.

I see Miloš Zeman's success in the first round as the result of his having been politically inactive for 10 years. It may seem unbelievable, but a large part of the citizenry has the feeling and is of the opinion that during his government our country was better off. Schwarzenberg is currently foreign affairs minister, which means he is an expert on international relations and foreign policy, and he is also a very experienced politician who was chosen by a large part of the citizenry from various parts of society. I see his success as lying in his unbiased opinions and his sincere humanity. Nevertheless, I won't vote in the second round, as it would mean denying my personal convictions and my faith in a good politician.

holomek-karel-anketni.jpgKarel Holomek,

chair of the Romani Association of Moravia (Společenství Romů na Moravě) and the weekly Romano Hangos ("Romani Voice")

The second round of the presidential elections will consist of evaluating the character of whom to choose as our future president. His characteristics will form a certain framework for the development of our society as indicated from Prague Castle. The current sickness should warn us against choosing a candidate who will perpetuate it.

President Klaus has shown us his preferences through his unreal prisoner amnesty, for which he will never be forgiven. At the same time he has made sure to indicate which candidate he would prefer. The second round will not be a referendum on government policy, as Mr Zeman certainly hoped it would be.

If I am to evaluate the candidates and their past performances, then Schwarzenberg leads by the length of at least two horses, even though he isn't an uncontaminated choice. His TOP 09 party is a problem for him, as is his colleague Kalousek, who is undoubtedly a yob, even though he is indisputably a good minister of finance. Zeman has the Bamberg scandal (dirty money), the Olovo scandal (the detestable defamation of Buzková) and the opposition agreement with Mr Klaus behind him, which in and of itself was the crime of the century for our country.

It shouldn't be a problem to choose whom to vote - but of course, it will be! People must vote even if they can't afford bread, and that applies now more than ever. Romani people must know that Schwarzenberg is a big supporter of theirs. I have never noticed anything like that with Zeman.

jab, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
Views: 391x

Related articles:


Aktuality, Brno, Evropa, Osobnosti, Prezidentské volby, Romano hangos, Rozhovory, Václav Klaus, Volby, Romové, Cyril Koky, Czech republic, Čeněk Růžička, EU, Roma


More articles from category

romea - logo