PHOTO: ROMA POLITICAL PARTY SOUGHT AMID CZECH RACIAL TENSIONS
The Equal Opportunity Party (Strana rovných příležitostí - SRP) was registered with the Czech Interior Ministry last month. The party wants to present itself as one defending the interests of the socially vulnerable, not primarily as a Romani party. SRP definitely intends to participate in the regional elections but has not yet decided about the elections to the Czech Senate.
The party, which Romani citizens of the Czech Republic have been calling for since last fall, was registered on 19 December 2011. The founders are putting the finishing touches on the party's program and arranging its founding convention, which should take place soon in Prague.
The new party was originally meant to be called Adaj ("here we are" in Romanes), but in the end the founders decided to be more conservative. "We chose the name Equal Opportunity Party because we believe there is not equal opportunity for everyone in the Czech Republic as there should be," explained Čeněk Růžička, who is one of the members of the party's preparation committee.
Růžička, who chairs the Committee for the Redress of the Romani Holocaust (Výbor pro odškodnění romského holocaustu - VPORH) also said the party does not want to present itself first and foremost as a Romani party. "We want to present ourselves as a party that advocates for the interests of socially vulnerable people. It is obvious that Romani people are part of that," he said.
It has not yet been announced who will sit in the party's leadership. The only thing clear is that the candidates will not be drawn from famous personalities, but from natural authority figures in the regions.
If the SRP succeeds in attracting a sufficient number of voters, their representatives could replace some of the existing regional representatives or even senators this fall. "We will definitely run in the regional elections. Whether we run in the Senate elections depends on whether we find high-quality candidates. We're not joking around," Růžička said.
Romani activists announced their intention to found their own party on 28 September 2012 at the memorial to Romani victims of the Holocaust at Lety by Písek. Near the site of the WWII-era concentration camp for Romani people, the activists remembered the names of Romani people who had been murdered in the Czech Republic since 1989 whose deaths had been ruled racially motivated.