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Havel Warns of Anti-semitism in Czech and Slovak Campaigns

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With anti-Semitism running dangerously high in Slovakia and visible even in the more liberal Czech part of the Czechoslovak federation, President Vaclav Havel has issued a timely warning on the eve of the national elections here June 5 and 6.

While acknowledging that as chief of state he cannot publicly identify with any political party, Havel made clear to an audience in Presov, Slovakia, last week that he would not vote for a party that has an anti-Semite on its slate.

Havel named no names. But it was clear he had in mind Alexej Pludek, a 69-year-old writer whose several novels and historical romances have unmistakably anti-Semitic overtones. Pludek is one of the Left Bloc’s nominees for a seat in the People’s Assembly of the federal legislature in Prague.

The Left Bloc is a coalition formed by the Communist parties of Bohemia and Moravia and its fellow traveler groups.

The Czech extreme right will be represented in next weekend’s elections by the Republican Party of Dr. Miroslav Sladek. It is running on a platform of white supremacy, xenophobia and anti-communism.

While the prime targets of Sladek’s rhetoric are the Gypsies, Third World asylum-seekers and Havel, his party’s weekly Republika has also attacked "the satanic work of Bolshevik Jews Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin."

Election forecasters do not expect Sladek’s Republicans to scale the 5 percent barrier necessary to enter Parliament.

POLL REVEALS ANTI-JEWISH VIEWS

In the Czech republic, a majority of liberals, conservatives and centrist forces is expected to win. In Slovakia, the forecasters predict a victory of nationalist and left-wing forces.

The far-right separatists, who are openly nostalgic for the Nazi-allied wartime regime of Josef Tiso, are not expected to get a large share of the votes.

The predicted winners are the Slovak National Party, headed by Jozef Prokes, which, though separatist, has declared its democratic intentions, and the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, headed by former Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar.

But both parties built their popular support on nationalist demagogy, intolerance and xenophobia.

Regardless of the winners, troubling news emerged from a recent public opinion survey commissioned by the American Endowment for Democracy.

It showed that 13 percent of Czechs and 57 percent of Slovaks believe that Jews have too much economic influence.

The poll found that 12 percent of Czechs and 42 percent of Slovaks believe Jews play an excessive role in the country’s political life.

A third of Slovakia’s population and 6 percent of the Czech republic believe that their further development might be endangered by Jews, who do not constitute even a tenth of a percent of the total population.

The elections next weekend could determine whether Czechs and Slovaks will continue to live in a common federation.

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