Saturday, 21 October 2017

MfD: Anti-migrant parties run in Czech regional polls

ČTK |
9 August 2016

Prague, Aug 8 (CTK) - At least seven of the parties running in the Czech regional polls rely on an anti-immigration approach, present themselves as anti-Islamist, anti-refugee and nationalist and some have included anti-migrant slogans in their names, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) wrote on Monday.

Most of them are opposed to the Czech acceptance of any refugees, the paper writes.

These parties include well-known groupings such as lawmaker Tomio Okamura and his Party of Direct Democracy (SPD), the Dawn movement, the far-right Workers' Party of Social Justice (DSSS) and the Republicans, but also a completely new group named "No Illegal Migrants - Let Money Go to Our People."

"After migrants arrive, it will cost money. As members of the regional assemblies and possibly also regional governments, we would influence this by trying to prevent immigrants from being offered social housing. Besides, we would have programmes tailored for particular regions," the paper quotes Petr Hannig, from the new grouping, as saying.

Sociologist Daniel Prokop says these protest groups do have a certain chance to succeed in the 7-8 October elections to the assemblies of the country's 13 self-rule regions.

"Nevertheless, I think they will be harmed by the fact that there are many of them," Prokop told MfD.

"For us in the SPD, the number of [rival] anti-refugee parties is unimportant, as I was the first to start warning of the problem of Muslim migration," Okamura is quoted as saying with self-confidence.

Experts say, however, that the parties that would primarily build their campaign on anti-immigration issues may fail, also because voters seems to be more interested in issues linked to their respective regions, the paper continues.

At the same time, the success of such parties will depend on the approach that mainstream parties will take to migration, it writes, adding that big parties' election campaign masterminds have rejected migration as the main election topic.

Nevertheless, they know well that they cannot avoid the migration issue within the campaign completely, MfD writes.

Already now, the acceptance of any refugees has been opposed by Andrej Babis, Finance Minister and head of the government ANO movement, and a tough approach in this respect has also been taken by the other big government party, the Social Democrats (CSSD), through its Interior Minister Milan Chovanec, the daily writes.

Out of the mainstream opposition parties, the Civic Democrats (ODS) have included migration policy as one of the main issues in their election manifesto.

As a result, the small anti-immigration parties cannot present themselves as sharply opposed neither to the government nor the parliamentary opposition, the paper writes.

In the north Bohemian Usti Region alone, four parties with names expressing their anti-immigration position are running in the elections, including two with almost identical names - "No Illegal Migrants - Let Money Go to Our People" and "No Illegal Migrants - Let Money Go to Our Children," the daily continues.

Jaroslav Foldyna, the CSSD's election leader in the Usti Region, however, said migration is an election "pseudo-topic." He personally prefers focusing on unemployment.

"I have seen no refugees in Usti so far. All this is a pseudo-problem while social injustice persists here and the social policy has been wrong...These are problems that the protest parties do not address at all," Foldyna told MfD.

"We want money from our welfare systems not to be misused against our people, which has been the case in France, for example, as the mass murder attacks there prove. However, we are basically no xenophobes," Hannig, a pop singer and music producer, said.

The number of the parties running in individual regions ranges from 17 to 25.

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