10 hours and 44 minutes – that’s how long Tomio Okamura, leader of the far-right SPD party, spoke in the lower house of the Czech parliament. As the media indicate, the record-long speech may have been aimed at delaying the processing of the bill that would allow Czechs to vote by correspondence abroad.
On Thursday, members of the Czech Parliament’s Chamber of Deputies debated a bill that would make it possible Czechs postal voting abroad in elections parliamentary, presidential and European Parliament. However, Thursday’s proceedings were dominated by the leader of the opposition party SPD Tomio Okamura, who spoke for 10 hours and 44 minutes. The politician “thus broke his last year’s record, when he spoke for seven hours and seven minutes on February 28,” reported irozhlas.cz, the news portal of Czech Radio.
A record-breaking speech in the Czech parliament
Okamura began his speech by criticizing the idea of introducing postal voting, then began reading his master’s thesis on Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia. – I’m only on page 42 of 100 – he said seven hours after entering the podium. He interspersed his reading of the work with critical remarks towards the government and public media.
Reprimanded by representatives of the Chamber of Deputies to talk about the postal elections, Okamura said that due to his position, “he can talk about whatever he wants.” Leaders of parliamentary clubs and political parties have no time limits for speaking in the lower house of the Czech Parliament.
“They want to at least delay the proceedings”
After the speech of the leader of the far-right SPD, several more MPs managed to speak. At. 21 the session was interrupted. They resumed on Friday morning. The Seznam Zprávy news portal indicated that, apart from Okamura, 68 MPs, mainly from the opposition, expressed their willingness to speak in the debate on postal elections, “who also want to at least delay the proceedings” of the bill enabling Czechs to vote by post abroad.
Tomio Okamura is from Japan. The SPD he leads was established in 2015. The party gained prominence in the Czech Republic thanks to its populist slogan “No to Islam, no to terrorism”, which became its main slogan in campaign before the 2017 parliamentary elections.
irozhlas.cz, Seznam Zprávy, tvn24.pl
Main photo source: Katerina Sulova/CTK/PAP/EPA