Czech Senate candidates use rhetoric about "inadaptables" and xenophobic tropes in second round battle
Czech Senate candidates Petr Bendl (Civic Democratic Party - ODS) and Jan Grois (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) have raised the issues of migration, the refugee crisis and "inadaptables", a term used as a synonym for Romani people, during the second round of the Senate elections. Bendl bought himself space in the local Kladenský listy (Kladno News) for an article in which he raised the subject of "inadaptables" and migration.
Bendl wrote of his competitor Adéla Šípová, supported by the Pirates, that she wants to "aid immigrants and integrate inadaptables". His article includes this argument: "As is apparent from her communications on social media, the young Pirate is in favor of the full veiling of Muslims. She considers the ban on the veil, for example, in schools, to even be unacceptable discrimination. She wants to take a similar approach, of course, in the case of the inadaptables whom she wants to integrate en masse and to whom she would give apartments. The upcoming elections, therefore, will also be a fight about what it will be like to live in Kladno and the surrounding area, and not just there."
While that article is no longer accessible through the daily's website, it can be found through Google's archive. Benda also said the following to the national Deník N daily: "I read on Ms Šípová's Facebook profile that she is in favor of quotas and welcomes immigrants. I cannot agree with that. I am unequivocally in favor of the country deciding for itself whether to receive somebody or not, and nobody should tell us whether we can set our own terms for that or not."
Benda has taken advantage of Facebook posts made by Šípová in 2013 and 2015 where, as the Pirate Party newsletter Piratskélisty.cz observes, "the Christian-oriented human rights defender Adéla advocated the project of EU quotas for refugees." The newsletter went on to say she was motivated to do so by her compassion for those suffering and that she later criticized aspects of the quota project more than once, which they say Bendl and those advising him have already forgotten.
Šípová told Deník N the posts referenced are real and her opponent is currently taking them out of context. "During this campaign I have not made any statements about the issue of refugees. This is outrageous. He's singing the same old anti-refugee song. It seems dishonest to me," she said of her opponent.
The Pirate candidate's advance to the second round was apparently the biggest surprise of the first round of the Senate election, winning the Kladno precinct with 17.8 % of the vote. She defeated incumbent Jiří Dienstbier (ČSSD), who is now supporting her in the second round, and she also defeated Mayor of Kladno Milan Volf.
Elsewhere in the country, Mayor of Znojmo Jan Grois (ČSSD) has also bet on striking a xenophobic note in the second round of his Senate campaign. In a campaign brochure he is quoted as saying that voting for his opponent, Tomáš Třetina (TOP 09) means "you agree with receiving migrants in the Znojmo area".
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