>"It’s Legal to be a Loser" – And How!

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The Czech Republic’s small liberal Freedom Union (US-DEU) party, once the rising hope of reform in the wake of the Klaus era in 1998 and again in 1999-200 as part of the Quad-Coalition with the Christian Democrats and others in is now crashing out of Czech politics with some style. With poll ratings consistently at around 0.3%, it only real hope was to ally with the plethora of other small liberal groups just under the radar of Czech national politics and hope for an electoral upset.

When the chimera of such a ‘European Liberal Party’ proved illusory, US decided to contest the elections alone promising an election campaign based on electronic communications with ‘usual elements’ with a (not insignificant) budget of up to 20 million crowns (Lidové noviny 17 February). And they have certainly found a way to blow 20 million in style.

The Union’s campaign swansong is a radical re-branding exercise, which owes more to MTV than conventional political marketing. The self-styled “New Freedom Union” hasreplaced its logo with white pentangle on a purple background – resembling widely used the anarchist symbol – jaunty pop graphics and a range of cryptic English language slogans with a broadly libertarian message, such as ‘It’s legal to live’, ‘It’s legal to be different’ and (more appropriately) ‘It’s legal to a loser’ – I identify with this one and have already ordered the T-shirt.

However, as former leader of the liberal Freedom Union Jan Ruml (LN 8 April 2006) observed, the Union is in practice not undertaking any campaign, but giving some admen something good to put on their CVs. The Freedom Union’s last minute attempt to revive itself from political death by re-inventing itself as a fashionable anti-establishment media phenomenon seens predicactably to be proving totally unsuccessful. The Greens despite their self-destructive urges do seem set to make it into parliament asrepresentative of the decent ethical liberal soft centre of Czech politics – and possibly if final polls are believed may do quite impressively.

Still as the New Freedom Union tells us It’s Legal to Live…

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