Xenophobia?: Don’t vote for Schwarzenberg. He is a foreigner!

President Klaus insinuates Czechs should not vote for “foreign” Schwarzenberg in the second round of presidential elections.

Would you say that this, in my opinion almost xenophobic statement may somehow influence Czech voters or not, and why?

Kevin Deegan-Krause, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Wayne State University

The effort to hurt political opponents by turning them into “others”–in terms of nation or class or some other important characteristic–is one of the older entries into the political playbook, and if not xenophobic itself, it is certainly something likely to be read as such by those who are prone to xenophobia (and to those on the other side who are sensitive to xenophobia and will react strongly /against/ it).

What is most remarkable to me, on further reading of this, is how it completes the 180 degree transformation of Pres. Klaus: he began the 1990’s by railing against the habits acquired by all those who lived under Communism; he began the 2010’s by acquiring a pen in a manner entirely familiar to those who grew up under the previous regime and now in 2013 he regards living under a Communist as an essential requirement for the presidency and rejects the Western upbringing of Schwarzenberg, which in the 1990’s he would have praised as a model for all citizens of his republic.

What is striking to me is the presumption and artlessness shown by Klaus’s statement.  Someone with as much political experience as Klaus should know that a comment this obvious, however indirect, will be taken as an endorsement of the other side.  Someone with as much negative “baggage” as Klaus should know that any seeming endorsement would hurt his favored candidate as much as help him.

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One Response

  1. Considering that Klaus got a good chunk of his university education in America, he’s got a lot of gall saying what he has.

    Schwarzenberg’s main appeal is that he has enough money that he can’t be effectively bribed. Considering how sick Czechs are of the corruption in their politics, whatever anyone could hold against him, that counts for a lot.

    Speaking as an expat who calls the Czech Republic his second home, the fact that Schwarzenberg is well connected internationally can only help the Czech Republic if he gets into office.

    As a foreigner here, I can’t vote; but I do know how I’d like to see it turn out.

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