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Other Solutions


The Czech Republic will hold Country-wide parliamentary elections on 2 and 3 June, a mere 18 days away! As a foreigner, I don't have a highly personal stake in the elections, but it's hard to miss the election posters and advertising. Karla is scouring Prague for pictures of posters from the various parties, and I'm sure those interested can find plenty of information for themselves. I suppose I am interested in the trivial side of things as usual--but then, if you aren't interested in that sort of thing you probably wouldn't be reading this.

Recently, my the Communist Party ads have drawn my attention. For a few reasons: the Czech Communists are, reportedly, the only "unreformed" Communist party in Eastern Europe (basically, they didn't change their name after 1989); there is a large amount of support for the party despite their dubious leadership in pre-1989 Czechoslovakia; the party, given its history here, is a rather polarizing issue, and its posters are often the subject of amusing or sobering defacement. It also seems, as others have noted, that the party is cultivating a new image in attempt to gain support from younger voters. Anecdotal wisdom here holds that support for the party is strongest among elderly voters who remember the "golden" times when everyone was guaranteed a job and taken care of. Middle-aged voters tend to remember the pre-1989 period more clearly and, thus, it makes sense that The Party would seek support among younger voters who do not have such personal memories (and gut reactions) on which to base their election choices.

The original Communist slogan was: "We have different solutions." You can imagine that this provided rich fodder for jokers and graffiti artists. The most common response was probably, "Yeah, I bet they do..." followed by an ironic eyeroll. The motto has now changed to "We have solutions." At least it's not so freely susceptible to parody. Someone did say it ominously echoed the "final solution," but with such a negative history I suppose there is no escaping these associations.


One large billboard by the bus station across from Brno's Hotel Grand boldly challenged, "Education for tuition? We have other solutions" The implication is that the Communists can deliver free education for all. (Most Czech-language university courses are free at present, but some politicians would like to see a different, more American-style, tuition system.)

The new sign at the bus stop is still a Communist ad. It now says, "Attainable living space? We have solutions." It is, as I can attest, difficult to find apartments if you are not willing to pay top dollar (so to speak). This problem is not unique to the Czech Republic, though I do appreciate the problem. Yet, as one quick-witted graffiti artist soon reminded, the Communist solution will probably be "in a panelák"! You don't have to look far in most Czech towns to find one of these panel houses, eyesores that are the emblem of Communism's planned living communities.


There has been far too much about the elections on the blog lately, at least considering that I claim to discuss "arts and culture" in Brno. However, there will probably be a few more election "informations" as I write about my blogosphere abscences and recent adventures.

Thank you, Amy, for the photo! Higher resolution available on my flickr page.

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