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Právo: Seniors want to enter Czech politics

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Prague, Aug 11 (CTK) – More and more elderly people want to enter politics in the Czech Republic as their share in society has been rising due to the population ageing and most parties do not defend their interests, daily Pravo wrote on Friday.

At present, the share of elderly people in elected bodies is quite low – some 5.5 percent in regional assemblies and 5.8 percent in municipal authorities.

A higher representation of senior citizens in elected bodies as well as in high politics is needed as the number of them has ben rising in society, Senior Council chairman Zdenek Pernes said.

The average age of inhabitants of the Czech Republic has increased by six years since 1990. At present, there are almost two million people over 65 in the Czech Republic with a population of 10.5 million, compared with 1.6 million children, Pravo writes, referring to statistical data.

Yet an older study on age discrimination, written by Lucie Vidovicova, shows that more than one-third of Czechs would like to restrict the possibility of the elderly to enter politics and occupy elected posts to prevent them from influencing developments in society so much.

Up to 44 percent of young people between 15 and 29 years support this opinion, while they consider the official retirement age the limit for “old age,” Pravo says. The current government has set the maximum standard retirement age at 65 years.

However, sociologist Jirina Siklova, 82, points out that the current seniors differ from the previous generations.

“They have a considerably higher education, they often retire at the age of 70 only, they are connected to the Internet and definitely do not want to keep sitting on a park bench. They have completely different ideas of their life, including the desire to change and influence something,” Siklova told Pravo.

Another problem is that the elderly are often perceived and presented in society as a uniform group with similar interests and opinions, which is not the case, experts point out.

There is no strong political force to associate seniors and fight for their needs in the Czech Republic. Only the Senior Council is defining their basic needs, Pravo writes.

Most political parties reduce the issue of the elderly to old-age pensions in their elections manifestoes. Besides, politicians are interested in pensioners mainly before elections since unlike young people, election turnout among seniors is high.

The atmosphere in society does not support respect for the old age and the active involvement of the elderly in social life either. Seniors are presented as the group of citizens threatened with poverty, expensive housing and rising healthcare expenses, which all together threatens state finances.

“Yet seniors are also a strong purchasing power at present, which economists must take into consideration. More than 400 billion crowns are annually spent on pensions. Demands for the quality of food, clothing as well as holidays and cars have been rising in this age group, too, unlike the previous generations of old people,” financial adviser Frantisek Machacek told Pravo.

Despite that, a political party of pensioners would not have a high chance to succeed in the Czech Republic since pensioners have different views, stances and interests, political analysts agree.

There are also increasing differences in the financial situation of the elderly. While some pensioners can hardly exist on their low pensions, other seniors face no financial problems at all, Pravo writes.

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