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Czech extremists move from inciting anti-Romani hatred to railing against "COVID terror" ahead of fall elections

5.6.2021 11:09
Czech MPs Marián Bojko and Lubomír Volný of the
Czech MPs Marián Bojko and Lubomír Volný of the "Free (Volný) Bloc" with the chair of the extremist DSSS party, Tomáš Vandas (holding the microphone) on 30 May 2021 in Duchcov, Czech Republic. (PHOTO: Facebook profie of Tomáš Vandas)

Tomáš Vandas, the chair of the extremist Workers' Social Justice Party (DSSS), is supporting the "Free Bloc" (Volný blok) group, whose front-running candidate is Czech MP Lubomír Volný, in this fall's elections to the Czech Chamber of Deputies and will not himself be running, apparently in order to boost the group's electoral chances. Volný has promised Vandas places on the group's candidate lists for DSSS members in exchange for his support. 

Those who run on the "Free (Volný) Bloc" list will not have to reveal their membership in the DSSS or any other party. Extremist groups not yet seated in Parliament that are small are trying to band together in the runup to the elections. 

The "Free (Volný) Bloc" wants to become the leader of this collection of small movements and parties. Speaking at several roundtables that have been broadcast live through Facebook, Volný has been trying to convince these small parties not to run their own campaigns, but to express their support for "his" "Free (Volný) Bloc" instead. 

However, some of these parties, which consider themselves "patriotic", dislike this idea and do not want to collaborate with him. Vandas, however, is publicly supporting Volný. 

The MP was originally elected to the lower house for the "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD) party of Tomio Okamura and is currently basing his campaign on rejecting the Government's measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Some Romani community members in the Czech Republic, both men and women, are open to such opinions and share Volný's social media posts featuring such content with comments of praise. 

Other extremists who have previously openly incited Czech society against Romani people, including Vandas, are using practically the exact same rhetoric about COVID-19 and the Government measures to combat the disease. "The Workers' Party unequivocally supports and always will support the unification of national forces," Vandas said on 11 May at the Kameňák ranch, where a meeting of such "patriots" was taking place.

"The situation is so serious that it is necessary to suppress all of this and to proceed together against the Government collaborators who have introduced this COVID terror here. For that reason, I am telling you unequivocally that the Free Bloc is a combination of movements, parties and societies that has, in my opinion, a relevant chance of success," Vandas said, adding that he has already met with Volný and agreed to cooperate with the bloc.  

Vandas and Volný then made a joint appearance on 30 May at a campaign meeting in Duchcov, where Vandas boasted that the DSSS has managed to "clean out the g*psy ghetto" there. The Duchcov local government has been in the hands of the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD), which is in government nationally, and the DSSS extremists. 

Czech MP Marián Bojko, who has recently switched to the "Free (Volný) Bloc" and is a close co-worker of Volný's, praises the collaboration with Vandas. "I've been in a lot of negotiations, but the person who actually keeps his word, who is fair and honest, who is intelligent, and who made a great impression on me personally is Tomáš Vandas of the Workers' Social Justice Party," Bojko said for a broadcast by the Svobodný vysílač (Free Broadcaster) online radio station. 

Volný is also attempting to capture the support of yet another extremist, Adam B. Bartoš. That antisemitic convicted felon has refused to refrain from running in the upcoming elections to the Chamber of Deputies, however, and will be a candidate for a different block of small extremist parties. 

The "Free (Volný) Bloc" was created after the demise of the Sovereignty-Jana Bobošíková Bloc (Suverenita - Blok Jany Bobošíkové) party. It has changed its name over time - between 2014 and 2021 it was called Czech Sovereignty (Česká Suverenita), between February and April 2021 it was the "Free (Volný) Bloc"-Czech Sovereignty group, and since April it is now just the "Free (Volný) Bloc". 

Bojko and Volný joined the party earlier this year, both of whom were originally elected to the lower house in October 2017 on the candidate list of the SPD-Tomio Okamura. The chair of the "Free (Volný) Bloc" is a former MP for the ČSSD, Jana Volfová.

Zdeněk Ryšavý, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

COVID-19, DSSS, Extremism, Racism



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