Fight against racism is not a topic in the European elections

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In IUSTITIA contacted candidates from the political parties that have a chance of representing Czech Republic in Brussels and asked them what steps they would take as elected European MPs.

Some candidates in the European Parliament elections from Czech Republic and elsewhere use populism and xenophobia as part of their campaign.

That is why In IUSTITIA contacted candidates from the political parties that have a chance of representing Czech Republic in Brussels according to the latest polls or those that use xenophobia and populism as an election trick. We asked them what steps they would take as elected European MPs.

In all the cases, we contacted the leader candidates and their running mates. Namely, Luděk Nidermayer and Jiří Pospíšil running on the TOP 09 ticket, Jan Zahradil and Evžen Tošenovský running on  the ODS (the Civic Democratic party) ticket, Jan Keller and Olga Sehnalová running on the ČSSD (the Czech Social Democratic Party) ticket, Ondřej Liška running on the Strana Zelených (the Green Party) ticket, Pavel Svoboda and Michaela Šojdrová running on the KDU-ČSL (the Christian and Democratic Union) ticket , Pavel Telička and Petr Ježek from the ANO 2011 Party, Petr Mach from Svobodní and Tomáš Vandas from the DSSS (the Workers´ Party for Social Justice). We directly contacted eleven persons in total through their assistants. We contacted the Úsvit přímé demokracie movement (the Dawn of Direct Democracy) through a web form.

Despite the fact that the candidates did not have much time to answer our question as they were contacted as late as on Tuesday, five of them managed to reply: Jan Keller (ČSSD), Pavel Svoboda (KDU-ČSL), Evžen Tošenovský (ODS), Petr Mach (Svobodní) and Tomáš Vandas (DSSS). It became obvious that racism and xenophobia are not election topics for most of the candidates.

Jan Keller from ČSSD expressed his concern regarding the growing influence of ultranationalist, chauvinistic and racist parties and movements. He believes that the situation can be solved with a high turn-out and voting for democratic parties. Evžen Tošenovský from ODS does not personally believe that the European Parliament should regulate the fight against racism and xenophobia. He would rely on the individual member states to solve this problem. Therefore it is very likely that he won’t participate. Pavel Svoboda from KDU-ČSL, the political party that had to withdraw a part of their election program that considered uncontrolled migration to be a threat to the EU, said that he would fight racism and xenophobia for the whole Europe. Yet, he failed to specify the concrete measures and it seems that this particular topic is not of high priority to him. Petr Mach (Svobodní) believes that fighting racism and xenophobia would be beneficial for his political party that claims that all the problems are caused by market liberation and populist restrictions to social benefits.

We were not surprised by the reply of Tomáš Vandas – the leader of DSSS – the political party that is openly hateful and intolerant and that sees the roots of Czech racism in the “gypsy minority” and the ROMEA organization. We were surprised that we didn’t receive any reaction from Strana Zelených as this political party has always been interested in fighting racism and xenophobia and in supporting diversity. Lately, its candidate Ondřej Liška supported a public protest against racism in Ústí nad Labem.

The European Parliament elections are also fundamental for the fight against racism and xenophobia. If racism and populism win, over the next four years European politics may follow a course that could negatively influence the core concept of the European community – respect to diversity.

Date: 23.05.2014

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