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Pehe: Too much focus on migrant card is risky for politicians

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Prague, Feb 22 (CTK) – It would be risky for Czech politicians to exclusively rely on playing the migration card and prefer strong words to balanced policies, Jiri Pehe wrote in daily Pravo on Monday, giving President Milos Zeman and Slovak PM Robert Fico as warning examples.

Fico (Smer-Social Democrats) has based his whole campaign ahead of the March 5 general election on his party and one-colour government’s resolute opposition to the acceptance of refugees, mainly the refugee relocation quotas. He says Slovakia will not allow itself to yield to the dictate from Brussels. That is also why Slovakia has provoked a court dispute with the EU over the quotas, Pehe writes.

This tactic of Fico was a success in Slovakia. For a long time, many wondered how strong the next Smer-SD one-colour government’s majority in parliament will be, rather than whether Smer-SD will form another one-colour government after the elections, Pehe writes, referring to Smer-SD as a long-standing and comfortable front-runner in party popularity polls.

Latest public opinion polls have shown a decline in Smer-SD’s popularity. As a result, Smer-SD has been quickly replacing its election billboards focusing on migration with billboards dealing with Slovakia’s real domestic problems, such as the health sector, in which several strikes broke out recently, Pehe writes.

The current panic in the ranks of Smer-SD offers a lesson for the Czech political scene. The Czech politicians who have excessively bet on the card of strong words about the refugee crisis, which is rather “virtual” in the Czech Republic, wage a risk, Pehe writes.

It could be said about them ironically that they cannot but wish for the crisis not to end soon, otherwise the main topic of their campaigning would fade out, Pehe writes.

For example, Zeman performs his presidency as a permanent election campaign that is focused on the migrant crisis as the crucial topic, Pehe writes.

Zeman makes big-mouthed statements about those whom he blames for underestimating the migrant danger. He asserts that a refugee wave will definitely roll across the Czech Republic soon, which is why the senior government Social Democrats (CSSD) should have a leader who is capable of defending the country against the expected invasion, Pehe writes, alluding to Zeman’s repeated lash-outs at CSSD chairman and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.

Like Fico in Slovakia, however, Zeman risks the public’s getting tired of the migration issue. Most Czechs still feel apprehensions about the migration wave, but the initial shock is over. In addition, the migrant crisis has affected the Czech Republic only marginally, and the EU gradually seeks solutions to it on both all-European and national levels, Pehe writes.

It may happen to Zeman, like Fico, that he will spend all his ammunition too early, Pehe continues.

Zeman even risks his humiliating defeat in his dispute with Sobotka, who dryly asserts that no invasion of refugees will hit the Czech Republic, and if it did, the country is well prepared for it, Pehe writes.

The temptation to play a single strong card, which is effective for the moment, is often irresistible for politicians. However, if their dark warnings fail to come true quickly, the time plays against them, Pehe writes.

In politics, too, the saying “Enough is enough” has proved true, he concludes.

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