Czech run-off campaign marred by anti-German jingoism

Aktualne.cz
25. 1. 2013 15:16
In unexpected and dangerous development, campaign before run-off election unleashes "ghosts of past"
"Don't vote for Karel Schwarzenberg," said an ad published in the Blesk tabloid daily
"Don't vote for Karel Schwarzenberg," said an ad published in the Blesk tabloid daily | Foto: Aktuálně.cz

Prague - The campaign for the run-off presidential election, which takes place on Friday and Saturday between former Prime Minister Milos Zeman and current Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, has been stained by anti-German nationalism.

The emotional debate was centered on the so-called Benes Decrees, a series of laws issued by Czechoslovak president Eduard Benes during and after World War Two that legalized the  expulsion of the country's three million minority of so-called Sudeten Germans.

Road to presidency goes through Fischer's endorsement

Zeman beats Schwarzenberg in vote, both in 2nd round

Karel Schwarzenberg, a member of Austria's aristocratic family, said on January 17 in a televised duel with his opponent that the post-war expulsion had been legitimized by the immoral principle of collective guilt and that if it had taken place today, Benes would have been tried by the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

These remarks prompted an aggressive reaction by the Zeman campaign, which took pains to portray Schwarzenberg as a threat to Czech national interests. Zeman went so far as to say that Schwarzenberg was "speaking like a Sudeten German."

The Zeman campaign's position was supported by outgoing President Vaclav Klaus and his closest family members. "As a Czech, I feel threatened by (Schwarzenberg's remarks)," said Klaus.

Klaus's wife Livia attacked Schwarzenberg's wife Therese for her Austrian origin and lack of knowledge of the Czech language. The outgoing president's son, Vaclav Klaus Jr., also joined the craze by poking fun at Schwarzenberg's singing of the Czech national anthem after the first round of the election.

The foreign minister's statements drew criticism even from Slovakia's left wing Prime Minister Robert Fico, who called them "disturbing" and "destabilizing" in an interview with the Pravo daily.

Most recently, just a few hours before the polls opened today at 2 PM (CET), the Blesk tabloid daily published a one-page ad displaying a picture of Schwarzenberg's face, crossed out with a red slash, with an accompanying text accusing the presidential candidate of being supported by Bernd Posselt, a controversial representative of the Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia.

The Zeman campaign distanced itself from the ad.

To a lesser degree, nationalist rhetoric was also used by  Schwarzenberg's supporters, who criticized Milos Zeman for his contacts with Russia's big business, namely the Lukoil energy company.

For the last ten years at least, nationalist scaremongering has been virtually nonexistent as a relevant political phenomenon in the Czech Republic. This era probably ended with the developments and remarks of the past few days - regardless of who wins the vote tomorrow.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

 

Právě se děje

Aktualizováno před 10 minutami

Dopravní nehoda u Ostrovačic na Brněnsku na několik hodin uzavřela dálnici D1 ve směru na Brno

Dopravní nehoda dvou kamionů u Ostrovačic na Brněnsku dnes zhruba na čtyři hodiny uzavřela dálnici D1 ve směru z Prahy na Brno. Kolize se obešla bez zranění, vyplývá z informací jihomoravské policie a hasičů. Před 10:00 se podařilo obnovit provoz jedním pruhem, oznámilo Ředitelství silnic a dálnic. Do té doby byla D1 neprůjezdná mezi sjezdem 178 u Ostrovačic a exitem 182 u Kývalky. Až zhruba do 18:00 ale v místě pokračovaly odklízecí práce.

Zdroj: ČTK
Aktualizováno před 37 minutami

Dálnici D10 uzavřela u Mladé Boleslavi nehoda kamionu

Dálnici D10 ve směru na Prahu uzavřela u Mladé Boleslavi nehoda kamionu, který se převrátil na bok. Část návěsu zasahuje také do jízdního pásu v druhém směru, kde je provoz sveden do jednoho jízdního pruhu. Při nehodě se nákladnímu autu prorazila nádrž a unikala nafta, řekla mluvčí středočeských hasičů Tereza Fliegerová. Podle policejní mluvčí Michaely Novákové se kolize obešla bez zranění.

Policisté na místo vyjeli ve 13:30, kamion měl podle polského řidiče technickou závadu. Po nehodě zůstal ležet na středových svodidlech. Podle Novákové byl v podvečer provoz na Prahu jedním pruhem obnoven zhruba na čtvrt hodiny, aby mohla odjet část čekajících aut. "Ale už je to zase zavřené," uvedla mluvčí kolem 18:00.

Další zprávy