An obscure survey by the Ministry of Interior stirred up discontent and doubts

By • on January 9, 2011

The citizens who would give their votes to the ultra-right party mostly live inMoravskoslezký, Ústecký and Plzenňský region. This is the outcome of a survey carried out by STEM agency at the request of the Ministry of Interior of the CzechRepublic. In 2006,  Czech citizens took part in the survey which took place between August 17 and October 15 2010.

The following four- paragraph excerpt from a ČT24 reportage informs us about the outcomes of the survey:

Prague – According to a survey of STEM, one fifth of Czechs are strongly against far-leftist groups. About 6% of Czechs agree with a majority of the ideas of the ultraconservatives and furthermore they are willing to support the far-right subjects actively, e.g. by attending actions like marches, demonstrations, etc. Another 2% of participants do not endorse the active support but they would still give their votes. Results also show that the above mentioned 8 percent  are people with a lower education and radical opinions. They require a government with a “firm hand.” The thread which causes most concerns comes from the 6 percent of inquired participants, most of them people, who would actively support far-right extremism. The survey clarifies that this group mostly consists of men and the unemployed. “People, who fall into this category point out the insufficient order and the rule in our society. They display signs of anomie, a sense of crumbling-down norms, inadequate social control and personal annihilation,” claims the survey.

The citizens of the Czech Republic have, out of all minorities, the worst treatmeanat of drug addicts, skinheads, anarchists, Roma and Muslims. According to the STEM, a majority of surveyed participants expressed aversion to co-living  with minorities in the same country. On the contrary, the same group marked Slovaks and physically disabled as the closest ones. While a majority of respondents stated they have had a personal experience with the Roma, they have had no contact with the rest of the minorities which they have approached negatively. The same group is strongly dissatisfied with their profession, family life, financial security and the functioning of society. The respondents falling into this group feel they cannot use their skills in the society they live in, they are dissatisfied with their environment and they also claim misunderstanding from the side of the others. STEM states that the monitored group displays “signs of personal instability, which leads them to an impulsive and thoughtless action.” In regards to politics, those individuals are mostly conservatives who point out the importance of nationality and require punishments to be toughened up. More than one third stated they are being restricted from the side of minorities, especially Roma.

Furthermore, the survey shows that four fifths of people living in the Czech Republic consider Roma as inadaptable and that they would agree with their removal or deportation. The survey also reveals that 90% of Czechs have had a bad experience with the Roma. “For a sociologist point of view, this is a drastic number – it is almost impossible that 90% should represent a general attitunde,” said Jan Hartl, the director of STEM. “The anti-gypsy attitude of the Czechs is as socially rooted as the society connects the Roma with inadaptability, criminality and misuse of social benefits,” explains František Bartoš, head of the survey team. The survey clearly illustrate that the Czech society does not perceive Roma as co-citizens but as foreigners. So, the society itself is not racist but rather nationalist.

The minister of Interior, Radek John, assumes that the Roma should deal with this. “It is also up to Romani communities to tell their children to escalate the problem,” John stated. The Romani journalist, Jarmila Balážová, is also aware that the Roma are not favourites in Czech society.

“This is partly given by personal experience and partly by media portrayal,” Balážová concludes. But she also thinks that society should not place collective guilt upon them and should not put them all into one bag.

So, that is about the survey. What do I want to say? Except for other absurdities, the question about removing Roma shocked me the most. From my point of view, it is not the answer but the question itself is that is that the issue represemts something unforgivable. How could such a question be asked in a questionnaire ordered by the Ministry of Interior?! Who would be responsible for their removal from the country? Where would the Roma be shifted to: behind the borders of towns and villages, or perhaps to a different planet? What is the objective of this question? To offer citizens an idea that this is also a solution to the problem of intolerance in the CzechRepublic? After all, what is the role of the Ministry of Interior: to protect or to threaten?

If a citizen of the Czech Republic is Roma, does it mean that, together with their removal, he or she would lose their nationality? See, one absurdity follows another.

During  a recent elections,the extremists did not get enough votes to become a party in the Parliament. The Czechs did not want them to rule. So, what did the Ministry of Interior want to achieve with this survey? How does it plan to use its outcomes and what should it serve to? We do not know. But we know for sure that the survey has already managed to create new fears for Romani parents. As the survey artificially raised self-confidence of extremist groups, parents are more worried about the lives of their children.

I was also taken aback by the fact that the survey passes on an absurd option, which states that extremists are not racists but actually protective nationalists. Why? Because Roma are being perceived as foreigners. Yet another targeted question of the survey and another absurdity: “Can a Czech Roma be a foreigner?”

If a scarecrow does not scare anymore, it needs some care to become scary again… Of course, I agree with the monitoring of activities of extremist groups but I do not agree with the  publicity which those groups can profit from. Non-Roma citizens who discuss the outcome of the survey on various forums share the same opinion. They consider any Czech political representatives as the worst thieves and they judge the survey as an“encouragement or inspiration to racism.”

The Roma are being labelled as criminals but many citizens think that what a Roma has managed to steal during 20 years is less than what a “white” co-citizen manages to steal under protection of paragraphs in one minute.

To sum up, the Czech Republic deals with huge debts but is not afraid at all to finance a politically ordered obscure survey without an appropriate explanation.