Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

More political irony

What is the most unlikely arena in which to advocate nationalism and anti-Semitism?

European Candidates See Opportunity on Extreme Edge
The campaign advertisement in the Czech Republic begins with a snake slithering out of a red European Union flag and a montage of pictures of supposed threats to Czech identity, including a 500-euro note, an Israeli flag and a gathering of Orthodox Jews.

“The European Union is an evil which produces more evil — it is our duty to confront it,” the voice-over says. “Let’s kill the snake!”

The advertisement is the work of Adam B. Bartos, a 34-year-old Czech journalist who is running in May elections for the European Parliament. He is campaigning with an anti-Semitic appeal, and regularly updates a list of 220 prominent Jews he accuses of dominating Czech life. He has called for the country to leave the European Union, which he portrays as a malign “superstate” undermining Czech sovereignty…

[T]he ad, which circulated on social media… [is] a symbol of the increasing boldness of the far right in the country and across the region, fueled by dissatisfaction with the post-1989 political and economic order.

Parties outside the political mainstream are expected to win as many as a quarter of the 750 seats in the European Parliament in European elections that start on May 22, according to recent polls, as far-right leaders, from France to the Czech Republic, portray the European Union as a gateway for illegal immigrants, an emblem of unrestrained markets and a threat to national sovereignty…

Jaroslav Plesl, editor of Tyden, a leading Czech political magazine… said by phone from Prague that while Mr. Bartos was unlikely to win many votes, his overtly racist message reflected how some politicians were lurching toward ultranationalism to attract disaffected voters…

In Eastern and Central Europe, a feeling that the revolutions that overthrew communism have not lived up to their promises have helped fuel the rise of the extreme right among the so-called losers of the post-1989 transition. They blame the European Union, immigrants and globalization for their failures, said Jiri Pehe, who worked as an adviser for former Czech President Vaclav Havel and is now the director of New York University in Prague…

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