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Kocáb does not talk to extremists

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Another contribution to the topic on providing space in media to extremist opinions was brought by Michael Kocáb when he refused to come to a Senate debate. The mayor of Chomutov, Ivana Řápková, was defending in the Senate the seizing of social bonuses from fee-dodgers, a system that she had introduced in her city.

Michael Kocáb justified his decision no to participate by saying that the session was broadcasted live by the news channel ČT 24. According to Kocáb, that was a double mistake. First, we live in a “permanent pre-election agitation” and many of the debaters run for the elections in the European Parliament or are going to run as candidates in the early elections to parliament in autumn. And within a TV broadcasting, such a discussion turns into a part of a campaign. Second, the minister said, the mix of debaters was not balanced and voices with which he strongly disagrees were given too much space. Voices with racist or extremist undertones.

It’s a strange situation. A public medium is broadcasting an event from parliament and a minister refuses to participate, because it is an unbalanced programme in his opinion. An objection suggests itself that by not participating he only stressed the imbalance. However, another thing is more important: the current coming of extremism may result in representatives of extremist parties getting to the parliament sooner or later. Will that mean that the democratic politicians will give up their space in broadcasting time and discussions to these extremists because they simply won’t be willing to “waste their time” with them? Should the public television then censure broadcasting from parliament and broadcast speeches of only certain politicians?

Such a picture seems absurd. But there’s another point of view from which one can look at Kocáb’s explanation. It may be taken as a warning that members of Workers Party are not yet in parliament, but especially at the pre-election time some extremist and especially anti-Roma ideas may resonate with populism of “democratic” politicians. Such as for example the Mayor Řápková or Senator Liana Janáčková. And that’s a significant warning: if democratic parliamentary parties are not able to resist this populism, the Workers Party will be one of the winners of the coming elections, even if it does not gain even one percent of votes.

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