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Czechs fear rise of the right in EU vote

Extremists parties are unlikely to win seats, but they could win state subsidies.

The Nazi's "final solution" aimed to kill all of Europe's Jews through industrialized mass slaughter. And they nearly succeeded, as more than 6 million Jews — as well as large numbers of Roma and others — died in a network of concentration camps.

Czech TV pulled the ad but defended its decision to air it by saying it was bound by law to broadcast all election commercials.

There haven't been any right-wing extremist parties in parliament here since the mid-1990s. But the extremists have used tough economic times to make scapegoats of the Roma, who are marginalized by society in the best of times. Unemployment is up and manufacturing production is down.

The Human Rights Ministry is circulating "an agreement" for politicians to sign, in which they vow to work against racism. Czeslaw says former president Vaclav Havel has also signed the document. It's noteworthy, however, that current President Vaclav Klaus has refused to sign it.

Klaus also vetoed an EU-mandated anti-discrimination bill that was passed by parliament. But parliament has never undertaken to override the veto, leaving the Czechs as the only EU country without an anti-discrimination law on the books.

Klaus, who is generally described as a euroskeptic, actually called himself "an EU dissident" late last year. At about the same time he left the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) — the country's leading right-wing party — which he helped found in the aftermath of the fall of communism in November 1989.

After leaving the ODS, one of his close associates founded a new right-wing party that is openly hostile towards EU integration. More recently Klaus was widely quoted as saying that EU elections were useless and that he wouldn't participate.

Klaus now says he was misunderstood and that “he'll vote tomorrow,” said Petr Macinka, a spokesman for the president. (Polls are open here Friday and Saturday).