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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.

Czeslaw says the growing right-wing extremism in the country reached a turning point last autumn when the Workers Party created their own vigilante group and launched a series of "patrols" of a Roma community in Litvinov, about 160 miles northeast of Prague.

More than once, large-scale brawls nearly erupted and at one point 1,000 police were deployed to protect the Roma.  

“The right-wing extremists are using the economic crisis” to attract followers, Czeslaw said. “Their meetings are next to socially excluded communities (like the Roma), where people are unhappy and willing to listen to these extremist views.”

But while the human rights ministry recognizes the problems and wants to act, it faces significant restrictions.

Because it operates more as an appendage of the prime minister's office than as a full ministry, its resources are very limited. In addition, much of the legal authority related to this issue rests with the interior ministry, which has been widely criticized for saying all of the right things but doing very little.

Gwendolyn Albert, a human rights advocate here, points to the ministry's "attempt" to have the Workers Party legally banned last year. “They filed a (legal) brief in December that was so laughably amateurish that the court had no choice but to reject it,” she said.

The Interior Ministry, which assured it would make someone available to comment for this article had not done so at press time.

Albert says it is still unclear how effective the interim government, which is leading the country until early elections in October, will be. “Prime Minister (Jan) Fischer's words have been correct but the proof is in the pudding.”  

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