Ultra-right National Party seeks to gain attention ahead of elections

A memorial stone to WWII victims, photo: CTK

The National Party, one of three tiny ultra right wing groupings which have been on the margin of Czech politics for years now without gaining any significant support - is suddenly making headlines. Ahead of the June general elections, the party is highlighting its anti-Romany, anti-immigration and anti-drugs stand.

A memorial stone to WWII victims, photo: CTK
Most recently the party has shown an active interest in the wartime camp for Romanies at Lety, where 326 people perished and from which over 500 inmates were transported to the gas chambers of Auschwitz. Under the guise of unveiling a memorial stone to WWII victims, the party is spreading the word that Lety was a camp for misfits and that those who died there succumbed to common diseases because of their lack of hygiene, not because of the way they were treated. The statements have shocked many Czechs and Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan has asked the police to look into the party's activities and particularly its web pages. The National Party has achieved its goal - it is in the spotlight - but will this tactic pay off? A question for political analyst Jiri Pehe:

"Well, I think it may pay off in the sense that it may bring attention to this party and possibly help them gain some new members but I do not think it will help the party to win seats in Parliament because they do not have a large enough constituency in Czech society."

What is the point of this provocation at Lety?

"Well, I think it is exactly what you imply: a provocation. Groups like these always try to provoke, to stir things up and call attention to themselves, but simply also to destabilize society because these are anti-establishment parties which do not believe in democracy and that is why they provoke. I think the leaders of this group know that the provocation will not get them seats in Parliament but it has gotten them some media attention."

The National Party
This particular party seems to be operating on the margin of the law, so to speak. They play neo-Nazi bands on their radio station and the interior minister has now asked the police to look into some of their activities. Do you think they may have gone too far?

"I personally feel that there are several groups in the Czech Republic that have gone too far and I think that perhaps the interior ministry, the police and other institutions are reacting too late. It seems to me that we have seen a number of incidents for example concerts organized by the skinhead movement and similar provocations by extreme right wing parties as we are seeing in Lety. So my opinion is that yes, they have gone too far, and it is not the first time they have gone too far and in my opinion the Czech authorities should be more forceful."

The National Party wants to unveil its controversial stone at the site of the Lety camp this Saturday. The local authorities do not want their presence there and have asked for the stone to be removed from their property. The police are expected to be out in force to keep things under control.