The Czech elections 2014 seem to be summing up the general mood of the whole world concerning politics. Graphically, at least.
As I don’t understand Czech well enough to follow the TV debates, and don’t own a TV to watch them on, I’m blessedly ignorant of the claims of all sides. But as I have a pair of eyes, I’ve been well exposed to the posters and adverts everywhere else and the general theme seems to be one of desperation. Not desperation that we have to save ourselves from global warming or the financial crisis or this week’s terrorist bogeyman but the politicians’ desperation that no-one’s paying any attention to them. “We know you’re lying because we can see your lips moving!”
So here, for those of you who don’t know or care about the Czech elections 2014, is a foreigner’s inaccurate and distorted take on what’s going on based on each party’s poster campaign. To prove I’m not making it up, I’ve included links to their websites, which I’m sure your favourite online translation software will enjoy playing with!
So, I’d like to start with Radim Žebrák, or ‘Radim The Beggar’, as his name translates. His campaign got off to a flying start with the enigmatic billboard proclaiming ‘Even a beggar can be a Senator’. At least, I presume it was his as there was no photo and all those posters seem to have been replaced with one where he looks like a pensive Oscar Wilde. A romantic poet, perhaps? His ‘About Me‘ webpage begins with a nice motivational quote from the Dalai Llama, anyway.
He belongs to the Ostravak Citizens’ Movement (Ostravak hnutí občanů), who have generally opted for nice water-colour caricatures of their candidates rather than actual photographs. Presumably they feel that politicians are more trustworthy if you can’t see their faces!
Communism Mk. II: Once More But Without The Gulags
Next up we have our old chums the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia. Not to be confused with the Communists who sealed the borders, brutally crushed dissent, murdered and imprisoned thousands and were overthrown in the Velvet Revolution. No, these are the Nice Communists, friends of the workers and champions of the underdog. So it’s out with the minefields, secret police and 3 a.m. knock at the door, and in with debates on the financial crisis, public finance and pension reform. They’ve also ditched the red star in favour of a pair of cherries that would look equally at home on a fruit machine. Anyone fancy a gamble on the Red Menace?
Social Democrats, Easy To Park, Available In Peach
Moving away from your actual Communism and standing firmly in the middle of the road like a pair of old women gassing about goodness knows what, we have the ČSSD. The Czech Social Democratic Party have gone for a delicate shade of peach and the whole Used Car Salesman look. They have, however, achieved 700 new parking spaces which should guarantee them a pretty solid support base among the local commuters.
In The Red Corner… The Tories???
Every new election produces its own crop of young pretenders and this year the Tories have made it to Ostrava. Their website, with its bright red theme, opens with a grand description of the British Tory party (pinched from Wikipedia) and how it stands for tradition and values, so obviously they’ve never heard of a True Blue Tory or Call Me Dave!
They’ve also elected to use controversy to grab attention. Whilst driving around, I’ve seen posters proclaiming that ‘Ostrava Doesn’t Have To Be Black’, ‘The Final Solution’ and ‘Zero Tolerance’. Whilst some have taken to the internet to cry about this apparently racist assault on the city’s Roma population, their website tells a different story. These slogans refer to, respectively, the continued cleaning of industrial pollution from the air, the regeneration of the city centre and a crackdown on repeat offenders getting off with a slap on the wrist. Not a bad manifesto for a city going through the changes which Ostrava is right now, but honestly, Red Tories? That’s funnier than New Labour!
Oi! Watch it, mush!
For sheer badly-chosen body language, I’ve gone for the ODS (Civil Democratic Party). There’s nothing civil-looking about this chap, is there? Or maybe the idea of a slightly belligerent bloke from Sales who’s had one too many at the office party is one that floats a Civil Democrat’s boat. One never knows.
Czech elections 2014 – Just Say YES!
The prize for the slickest campaign has to go to ANO (YES). They are campaigning for government, local and Senate seats and from what I’ve heard, seem to have the respect of a broad cross-section of the population. Their founder, Andrej Babiš, is a multi-billionaire and many people find his campaign against political corruption and sleaze more credible because of this. Most Czech politicians caught with their hands in the cookie-jar are squabbling over a measly few million. Why would someone worth billions want to waste their time over such small change? His critics worry that he’s not trying to steal a few million Czech Crowns, but the whole Czech nation!
Czech elections 2014 – Best In Show
And finally, my personal favourite – a Great Dane called Edik. No, really, I’m not pulling your leg here. Edik lives in Poruba, isn’t afraid of walking the streets at night or growing old, and his owner has a job. I know all this because his posters say so. Although, to be fair, it’s not hard to walk the streets in safety if you’re 2 metres long, weigh 90 kg and have huge, pointy teeth.
The peach fringes of the poster give it away – Edik is in fact a Social Democrat. Apparently, if he wins the election, his owner will do the actual work while Edik limits his public duties to rolling in poo and sniffing other dogs’ bums.
Now you’ve all had a good giggle at the candidates, spare a thought for your humble narrator. I’ve just found out that I have the right to vote here, what with being an upstanding citizen and paying taxes and all. I’ve always felt that people who can’t be bothered to vote should be exiled to somewhere dark and totalitarian for a couple of years, so I’ve got to choose one of them or start my own party. Fortunately, the Ostravak Citizens’ Movement came up with something that proves they understand the needs of both me and my kids.
Neat, isn’t it? It’s a fridge magnet, which my kids love and it’s a bottle-opener, which I love. Thanks, guys. See you on polling day!