Comments on campaign debates on national minority issues

One of the campaign issues for coming parliament election is the state response on anti-Roma riots (as we informed in previous article). The state radio station (Český rozhlas Radiožurnál) on October 3rd organised an on-air discussion with parties’ representative of KDU-ČSL, KSČM, TOP 09, ODS, SPOZ, ČSSD, and ANO on national minorities, European integration and the parties’ priorities towards Roma minority with special emphasis.
The debate has raised two important points: the parties are unable to define whether the Roma issue has social or ethnic roots. To be honest, event moderator Martin Veselovský mixed this term several times. Interestingly, the centre right parties TOP 09, ODS, and KDU-ČSL, forced to mark the recent anti-Roma riots as a societal problem and not as an ethnic problem. All politicians agreed that state social assistance is misused by majority society as well. The leftish party SPOZ said that current problems caused liberal economic policy applied by previous centre-right government. To this point KSČM added that the budgetary cuts caused raise of tensions in problematic regions such as northern Bohemia.
Although ČSSD feels to represent social and minority-friendly policies in the Czech politics, Jaroslav Foldyna, ČSSD leader in Ústí nad Labem, quoted that the percentage of people parasitizing on social aid is the highest among Roma. Foldyna tried to react on statement given by local Social Democrats politicians on state aid misusing by Roma minority. In this respect, Jan Bartošek, leader of KDU-ČSL in South Bohemia replied that the most discriminated group are well educated Roma. The case of ČSSD shows how the party is straddling among official liberal claims to show that party does not exclude minorities and claims given by local party representative.

On October 14th a discussion in the Czech Television took place with leader of populist movement Úsvit přímé demokracie and radical party DSSS. During the discussion Martin Veselovský pushed the leader of DSSS to the statement that the Jewish culture belongs to the Czech cultural heritage as well. Tomáš Vandas, the leader of DSSS, claimed that his message was against immigrants that refuse to assimilate in the Czech Republic. But Veselovský insisted on question whether Jewish culture is part of historical and cultural heritage. Tomio Okramura, the leader of Úsvit přímé demokracie, tried to express his anti-immigrants statements as well. Similarly to Vandas, he was not able to response adequately. Veselovský asked him, which sources Okamura used for claims that foreigners are misusing Czech social system. Okamura replied that he asked for such data only in one employment agency in Prague.