As racial tensions simmer, new Romany party to contest elections
A plethora of new political parties have formed in recent weeks ahead of early elections at the end of October. They include a new attempt at forming a party to defend the interests of the country’s Roma minority, woefully unrepresented at a political level. The initiative comes at a time when relations between Roma and majority society have perhaps never been worse, so what chance does it have of success?
A new party with ambitions to change that was founded this summer. It’s called the Romany Democratic Party, a leftist organisation which held its first central committee meeting at the beginning of September, in the town of Kutná Hora. It says it has over a thousand members, and will field candidates in four of the country’s regions in the upcoming early elections. Miroslav Tancoš, elected as the party’s chairman, says he’s a political realist as far as the party’s ambitions are concerned.
The party was founded days after neo-Nazi skinheads marched through a series of Czechs towns and cities, targeting areas inhabited by members of the Roma minority in demonstrations that have often been joined by local people. Observers describe the atmosphere in some locations as an ethnic tinderbox, and say it’s a miracle no-one’s been killed. The atmosphere in Czech society is hardly, you’d think, very conducive to inter-communal dialogue. But Miroslav Tancoš says he’s convinced that given the chance, the Roma – who number some 250,000 – can find a voice.
Observers will be pessimistic – previous efforts have fallen flat, and even some Roma civic initiatives are regarded by the Roma community as ineffectual wastes of money. The Romany Democratic Party has a lot to prove, and a lot of scepticism to overcome.