You May Lose Your Vote
What kind of signal is a Parliament sending to its citizens when it tells them that they must remain in the country or else lose their rights? In rejecting a draft amendment last week, the message from the Lower House of the Czech Republic was that a citizen of the Czech Republic is only a full citizen if he stays at home because if you happen to be abroad during the upcoming elections, you won't be able to vote.
This decision means that Czech students studying abroad will not be allowed to vote. Czech businessmen conducting business in all corners of the globe will not be able to cast their ballot. Even officials working at embassies of the Czech Republic around the world will not be able to take part in the democratic process of their country.
Make no mistake: I am not talking about German speakers expelled after the war, and I am not talking about Czech-Americans who would like to acquire dual citizenship. I am talking about you, the Czech citizen already holding a Czech passport. You are having your rights taken away for no explicable reason.
The message from your lawmakers seems to be this: do not study abroad, do not work abroad. Your friends and relations who do so are untrustworthy and unreliable. They are sub-citizens.
Some will blame this recent decision on the old Czech "provincialism" (provincnost) which some Prague intellectuals see as the root of all evil in the Czech Republic, but I adamantly disagree. This is not the provincialism of the wider population of the Czech Republic but the lunacy of the lawmakers of the Czech Republic. Having lived in the Czech Republic for many years, I can honestly say that I do not know of any Czech citizens who would think that they themselves should be stripped of their rights just because they work, study or travel abroad. Do you think you should lose your vote just because you are working or studying abroad at the time of the elections?
Of course, other countries find it normal to have citizens living abroad. It is one of the reasons you pay to maintain embassies, after all. As a US citizen, I have the right to vote in US elections despite the fact that I live in the UK. I know British subjects who live, work and study abroad and yet can still vote in UK elections. Why is this rather normal in other parts of the world and yet not permitted by the lawmakers of the Czech Republic? What are they afraid of? Why are they afraid of you, the citizen of the Czech Republic?
Well, enjoy your trip abroad. Study abroad, and gain the skills to build your country. Do business abroad, and bring economic prosperity to yourself and to your native land. Learn and live abroad. Just don't expect to be a full citizen of the Czech Republic when you get there.