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“I would vote for Hungarian-type family laws,” Says Czech Senator

Dániel Deme 2023.10.20.

We met Senator Jiří Čunek, former leader of the Christian Democratic Union – Czech People’s Party (KDU-ČSL), who currently serves as a senator for his region, Vsetínsko. In the past, he had to face accusations of racism and corruption but was found not guilty of all charges. The senator describes himself as a “political dinosaur,” but could be best characterized as a traditional conservative, common-sense politician unfazed by current progressive trends or mainstream opinion in politics and culture. We asked him about his views regarding the prospects of Christian politics today, about the “Hungarian model,” and how he sees Czech-Hungarian cooperation.

You come from a party that has Christianity in its name. How would you define the role of a movement that originally set out to public service under the banner of Christian values and virtues in today’s multicultural Europe?

I will tell you what it is not first. If it is a political party, it is not trying to replace the role of a church. However, it certainly wants to refer to Christian values, the ones on which our civilization was built. If our civilization was built on said values, and we abandon them, then obviously there will be a change in civilizations- the old one will fall.

If we abandon the basic principles of Christianity, such as the Ten Commandments, then there is a paradigm shift. We are here to bring these values to the life of our society, such as the protection of life or respect for the elderly. These have a serious effect on how society behaves.

You have complained that your own party had lost its way precisely because they have abandoned their Christian roots. It is a tendency that we see across Europe, perhaps most emphatically in Germany with the CDU and CSU. Yet it has a certain causality in the West that had transformed itself into multicultural societies, while in the Czech Republic you have a largely homogeneous society. What explains this shift then?

After the fall of communism in 1989, churches filled up for a while, as the previous persecution had ended. This enthusiasm has subsided somewhat today, but I do not think this is a form of intellectual atheism. Most people cling to a form of faith in God, but at the same time they are almost militantly anti-clerical – i.e., “I believe in God, but I do not want to go to church.”

This means that any party that openly calls for the preservation of Christian values here in the Czech Republic will struggle to get through the 10 percent mark in elections. Our main problem today, however, is that in our party we have people in high positions, even members of parliament, who think that we must open ourselves to liberalism.

Jiří Čunek. Photo: Hungary Today

Why do they want to transform a Christian party into a liberal one rather than join a liberal party in the first place?

I do not understand that myself. Some people, who have joined our movement when it was at its peak think that they will save those high percentage points this way. In fact, our drop in support originates from opening to liberalism, because those who voted for KDU-CSL want us to defend Christian conservative values. But liberal voters will obviously vote for a liberal party, not us. I think this is a dead end.

Why did your party leadership want to choose the easy way instead of presenting valid, plausible arguments for its original mission, and why does it lack the courage to do so?

There is a new leadership who does not know how to do this. They worry less about the loss of the party’s identity than about losing seats in the government. Besides, I do not think sticking to our original values would be the harder way. Yet we always have politicians who want to cooperate with another party that is on the crescent of a wave of popularity and ride that wave.

In an earlier interview, you emphasized the importance of family consisting of a male father, a female mother, and of course their offspring. Hungary has codified this fundamental building block of our society in the constitution. Would you like to see something similar in the Czech legal system?

First of all, I would not want to see this because it would be a sign that something has gone horribly wrong. On the other hand, I would love to go this way. If you get to the point when you need to introduce it in your constitution that the father and mother are the family, and everything else is an artificial anthropological construction, then this is some kind of a pathological state of things. We really are sick, this is not a normal state of things.

When I talk to people outside of Prague, no one doubts the fundamental building blocks of a family. We really are sick, and so is Europe and the U.S. Hence I would like to encode this in our constitution. But most of the parties do not want this, because they are afraid of the mainstream. If, on the other hand, we had confidential voting in the parliament, then I am convinced that most progressive types of legislation would not pass and a law defining mother, father, and the child as a base of family life could pass successfully.

Your schools have been strongly infiltrated by progressive groups who teach gender ideology, progressive ideas, and politicize basic tenets of social life. In Hungary, the government had introduced legislation that only allows such ideas in the school with parental consent. Where do you stand on this issue?

In the Czech Republic, under the banner of freedom and democracy, we have allowed the normalization of such ideas. This has created a so called “mainstream,” where even parents are afraid to raise their voices against this phenomenon. Only a small number of parents had the courage to oppose this, but the majority turns its head the other way and want to avoid confrontation. The mainstream media of course plays a crucial part in this, that is, in defining what the mainstream should be.

The good news is that in most cases these teachings show themselves as flawed, the bad news is that often this is forgotten quickly, and those responsible are not called to account. Even in my own party I often need to confront opinions against Hungary, its government, Viktor Orbán. They present Hungary as a completely misled nation because of the direction it has chosen.

It is strange because I have met a number of young Czechs asking me about the success of the Hungarian conservative model, and wondering how this could be transferred into a Czech context.

Something must happen here in the way public perception is created, the one and only “correct opinion.” People are afraid to speak about their views, voice their opinions, are afraid to admit if they did not vote for a left-wing party. They are ostracized if they do. Anyone who voice their disagreement against progressive policies, such as presently against the Istanbul Convention, are attacked.

I am a political dinosaur, but I do speak to young people. Recently, I spoke to young activists within our party, I told them, “be a politician, but not a professional one.” First establish your families, be financially stable, and when you pass forty, then join politics. Young politicians have little affinity towards family policies and conservatism in general until they have their own families. You cannot study to become a politician because a politician should know what is the substance of all subjects, and what is fundamental. Only people who are experienced should join politics. I am against young politicians who get to the national assembly in their twenties. We do not have a single positive example among them.

What about Viktor Orbán, who started FIDESZ in his twenties…?

Yes, but he gained experience gradually. At the end of the day, how many Viktor Orbáns are there around? There is always an exception. But for someone to be a good politician, one must understand life.

What do you make of Viktor Orbán’s statements, who speaks about a Christian Europe, a Christian Hungary? We could also include his stance on gender ideology and migration, among other topics. Could his direction be a model for the reinvigoration of Czech politics?

It could, but definitely not now. Ask yourself how many members of the parliament or Czech senate would admit that they agree with the politics of Viktor Orbán?

Prime Minister Petr Fiala did just that when in 2015, he tweeted his support for the anti-migrant fence in Hungary, and in 2018, he told critics of Orbán’s election victory to accept the democratic will of the Hungarian people. Sadly, he recently deleted these tweets.

That was in the past. But I am ready to do this today, in fact this is something that is expected of me. However, this would not amount to much. Generally though, there are many politicians who take Hungary as an example to follow, but they would not say this publicly. It would be too toxic.

It is a shame we do not have a working Visegrad 4 alliance because Europe is walking the path of self-destruction. The Green Deal is completely without any perspective, but they do not care. They then reject talking to Russia and Asian powers who have most of the raw materials that we need. It is wall-to-wall politics supported by the media.

Jiří Čunek. Photo: Hungary Today

I would end with a personal question. You have given up the leadership of your party when you had to face a barrage of attacks from its left faction. However, this is exactly how the progressives hollow out previously national-conservative movements, when its leaders throw in the towel and empty the space for them. Why did you give up, why did not you fight on for what you believe in?

That is a question no one had asked me before. A Hungarian asks me such an interesting question… But I did not give up. Some started to perceive me as a threat, then I was reported to the police, and the police officers dealing with my case were hired mercenaries serving the end of those who hired them. Polls showed that I was the most popular member of the government we were in, so there were some who could not process this and envied me. This is when the hunt started against me, and after the criminal case brought against my person, I went down as the most unpopular member of the government within a month.

In my own region of Vsetínsko this was not the case, because people there had known me for a long time. I was then mulling things over and did not want to give up. In 2009, I was in a contest for the leadership of the party and lost. I have become a senator instead.

The People’s Party (Lidová Strana) wanted consensual people. That I am not. They told me I have to open up for the LGBTQ community and have a dialogue with them, but I replied – “why waste our time?” If someone comes and wants a debate about cancelling families, such as those who say that families are toxic, then I say let them talk about that but let us not waste our time. These things are fundamental for most citizens. On the other hand, politics is not a talk about nothing. Hence, the bottom line is that I did not give up, I lost.

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Featured Photo: Hungary Today

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