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It will probably be the same before the elections to the European Parliament, which will take place in the spring of next year.
“It’s absolutely possible,” says Otto Eibl, a political scientist from Masaryk University, for Nauzal, according to whom migration could be as prominent a topic as the Green Deal, against which politicians have also been vocally opposing in recent years and trying to score political points on it.
The first signal has already been fired by the ANO movement, whose representatives promised the voters after the program conference that they would prepare an amendment to the asylum law for the Czech Republic.
“Illegal migration is our threat. We will want a new asylum law, which is very strict, so that people who have no business living here do not live here,” ANO chairman Andrej Babiš declared at the end of October. His movement regularly returns to some form of promises of protection against illegal migration.
Before the parliamentary elections in 2021, the ANO movement chose the Pirate Party as its main competitor. Thus, Babiš regularly referred to the head of the Pirates, Ivan Bartoš, in pre-election debates as “the main welcomer who wants a Muslim Europe”. He also communicated through short shouts on social networks. His nightly shout on Facebook became legendary: “Chats and cottages for migrants? Never!”
“Having a rational campaign automatically means losing,” points out Eibl. According to him, however, it is always up to each side whether they choose a negative emotion for the campaign, i.e. fear, or a positive one, which is hope. “For example, Petr Pavel won the presidential election with that,” reminds the political scientist. He adds, however, that it is easier for politicians to rain sulfur around themselves. “Negativity will also attract people who might not otherwise vote for that party.”
Karel Komínek from the Institute of Political Marketing also confirms that negative emotions are a strong motivator for coming to less popular elections. “Looking at it without emotion, it’s a cold calculation. I don’t think it would be possible to choose a topic that would provoke more emotions and at the same time it would be possible to get it into the public debate,” he says. According to him, the topic of illegal migration can evoke a strong emotion in voters even on the basis of several videos and photos and the subsequent promise that the politician “will not allow this”.
Europe and migration
Even in connection with the war in Israel and the pro-Palestinian demonstrations and riots, other European countries and politicians have begun to openly admit that anti-Semitism, which is difficult to eradicate, is coming to Europe along with refugees from Muslim countries. A radical change in approach has recently been announced, for example, by Northern European states, such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, which have recently agreed on closer cooperation in expelling illegal immigrants. Former diplomat Pavel Telička did not only talk about this.
Already traditional “fighters” against illegal migration are the politicians of the SPD movement, which brought this issue to the Chamber of Deputies in 2017 and since then has maintained a steady support of around 10 percent. They are regularly opposed to immigration, and it will be no different in the upcoming campaign for the European elections. The program and candidate of the movement will be presented in the coming days.
Illegal migration and proclamations promising a “fight” against it became commonplace in the Czech Republic already in the regional elections in 2016, when various groups that put immigration in their name were candidates in the regions.
Just to give an example: in the Ústí Region, for example, subjects such as “No to illegal immigrants – money for our children”, “Dawn with Blok against Islamization”, “DSSS – NO to immigrants and non-adaptables”, “No to illegal immigration – money for people”. All remained well below one percent of the vote.
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An emotional fight
According to political scientist Jan Charvát from the Department of Political Science, FSV UK, the topic of migration has slightly fallen asleep since 2015, relegated to the background and interested only a very narrow group of voters. He thinks that now the topic is back and due to the events in Israel and the pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the Czech Republic and in the world, it will be relevant again.
“It will obviously now be framed more by the anti-Israeli dimension, which is related to the issue of pro-Palestinian demonstrations and the view of them. Which will be interesting in the context of the entire Western world. In the Czech Republic, however, it will take a slightly different form than in Western Europe, because there is an absolute minimum of those who would hold a pro-Palestinian point of view,” he says.
Already in 2015, the Czechs reframed the discussion on migration with a specific emotional and negativist approach. According to Charvát, migration is not perceived here as something natural that happens, can and will happen, but that can be corrected in various ways.
“We reframed the whole thing that it’s not about migration, it’s about invasion. We are not talking about migration, but about Muslims coming here to destroy us,” he explains.
According to him, such an approach turns politics into an emotional battle, which is much more attractive to most people than just dry politics dealing with migration and its management from a practical point of view.
“When politicians talk about how many people can come here, what asylum conditions we will set for them, how many work or study visas we will give out, it is boring and it does not mobilize people. But to come and say ‘we will stop the Muslim invasion’ sounds great. You suddenly feel like a crusader in front of Jerusalem,” concludes the political scientist with a slight exaggeration.