- Title: CZECH REPUBLIC: Egg bombardment disrupts leftists' campaign
- Date: 28th May 2009
- Summary: PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC (MAY 27, 2009) (REUTERS) CZECH SOCIAL DEMOCRATS EUROPEAN ELECTION RALLY IN PROGRESS PERSON IN CROWD WHISTLING/PEOPLE BOOING WOMAN WAVING BANNER TWO WOMEN HITTING EACH OTHER WITH BANNER MAN TAKING PHOTO WOMEN FIGHTING OVER BANNER/ONE HITTING THE OTHER ON HEAD
- Embargoed: 12th June 2009 13:00
- Location: Czech Republic
- Country: Czech Republic
- Topics: Domestic Politics,Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVA91LA6Y8SEY202SOONEJKL34MN
- Story Text: Czech activists pelted the leader of the leftist Social Democrats with hundreds of eggs at a rally on Wednesday (May 27) ahead of European and national elections.
The incident illustrated growing political tensions in the central European country fed by a personal rivalry between ex-Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and leftist leader Jiri Paroubek. Paroubek triggered the fall of Topolanek's cabinet in March, halfway through the country's term as EU president.
The European Parliament election on June 5-6 is followed by a national poll planned for October.
Topolanek's backers have criticised Paroubek for his tough style and fear he could join forces with the unreconstructed Communist Party if he were to win the October vote.
A crowd of mostly young protesters outnumbered the supporters of the leftist party at a campaign stop in downtown Prague, a right-wing stronghold, on Wednesday.
Paroubek was hit about a dozen times but remained on the stage, ignoring deafening whistles from the crowd.
Police arrested 16 people for disturbing the peace.
One woman said she thought Paroubek deserved the egg-throwing.
"I wish it on him, because he is very arrogant. His promises cannot be met and he thinks that everybody is absolutely stupid," said Prague resident Mrs Jarmila.
Campaign violence has been unknown in the Czech Republic since it embraced democracy in 1989 following four decades of totalitarian communist rule. Many Czechs still regard the Communists as unfit to hold power.
An activist first hit Paroubek with an egg earlier this month. Since then, 47,000 have joined a group of egg-throwers on the social networking site Facebook and Paroubek has been unable to hold campaign events without them being disrupted.
The Social Democrats had led most opinion polls ahead of the European Parliament vote but the latest surveys show the Civic Democrats edging ahead.
Paroubek has won support mainly among poorer Czechs for promising to take care of those hit by the economic crisis, reverse reforms that he says favour the rich, and rid the country of what he says are the corrupt practices of the past.
Paroubek has not ruled out forming a minority cabinet, which could depend on Communists votes, but an outright coalition with the anti-EU and anti-NATO party is very unlikely.
He accused Topolanek's Civic Democrats of instigating the egg-throwing but the party rejected any connection with the protests and called on the activists to stop.
Since May 8, an interim cabinet of the non-partisan Jan Fischer has run the country.
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