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ČSSD expels activist Patočka due to Brno rail station referendum

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Brno, Nov 13 (CTK) – The Brno municipal conference of the Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) expelled Jakub Patocka, the editor-in-chief of the Denik Referendum online daily, from the party on Saturday over his activity for a referendum on the city’s railway station.

“He was and he still is a civic activist, not a politician. He represents himself alone and he was harming the party,” former Brno mayor Roman Onderka, who has gained support of the conference to run for CSSD’s leadership, told the website of the Respekt weekly.

In a secret vote, 101 delegates of the conference voted for the expulsion of Patocka and 13 voted against it.

Outgoing Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) said on Twitter on Sunday evening that he saw no reason for Patocka’s expulsion. “If this politics of Bolshevik intolerance wins among Social Democrats, they will turn into an unelectable sect,” Sobotka tweeted.

Patocka dismissed the decision as wrong, formally invalid and “a trampling of the ideals of the social democratic movement.” He objected to not having been invited to participate at the meeting where the matter was discussed.

“Not even the Communists expelled people from the party while failing to invite them to the particular meeting,” Patocka said.

Patocka, 44, was the editor-in-chief of the Literarni noviny weekly in 1999-2009 and an environmental activist. He headed the Green Party in 2003-2005, but left the Greens after an internal dispute following the party’s failure to obtain any seats in the 2004 European election.

He joined the CSSD in 2013, when he also initiated the formation of a civic alliance called Referendum 2014 (later Referendum 2016), which collected signatures of Brno’s citizens to make the city council declare a referendum on the location of the station.

The referendum was eventually held on October 7-8, 2016, but it was not valid because not enough people turned up at the vote. Of those who did vote, almost 81 percent supported modernisation of the railway junction in Brno’s centre and 68 percent supported the declaration of an open competition for its design.

Thus the majority supported the views of the referendum’s organisers, who oppose the transfer of the railway station farther away from the city centre. The CSSD considered the referendum to be premature, however.

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