The Czech Pirate Party has hidden a short message, a so-called acrostic, in the Czech EU election ballots. Pranks like these have a long tradition.
If you are interested in steganography you should read my book Versteckte Botschaften. One chapter in this work deals with acrostics. To see what an acrostic is, look at the poem inscripted on the following tombstone and read only the first letter of each line:
To explain it in a more formal way, I quote Wikipedia: An acrostic is a poem (or other form of writing), in which the first letter (or syllable, or word) of each line (or paragraph, or other recurring feature in the text) spells out a word, message or the alphabet.
Over the last five years, I have mentioned quite a few acrostics on this blog. For instance, in 2017, I blogged about the following letter of resignation written by a US governmental committee:
The first letters of each of the five paragraphs combine to spell out RESIST. This word became associated with protest against the Trump administration.
A few days later, I introduced five more acrostics. One of these was the reason why James May, presenter on the BBC program Top Gear, was fired from the magazine Autocar. May spelled out a message using the large red initial at the beginning of each review he published in the Road Test Yearbook Issue for 1992:
The message reads: “So you think it’s really good? Yeah, you should try making the bloody thing up. It’s a real pain in the arse.”
Six years ago, I blogged about another acrostic. This one was created by an employee of the US National Wheather Service in Anchorage, Alaska, who waited for his payment during the government shutdown of 2013. The message PLEASE PAY US was hidden in the following wheather report:
Blog reader Jan Pulkrabek has now made me aware of an acrostic that was discovered only a few days ago. It was created by the Czech Pirate Party. Like in other countries participating in the EU election, the Czech election ballot listed a number of candidates for every party (in Germany, ten candidates per party were mentioned).
The first letter of the job position mentioned for the first nine Pirate candidates formed the sentence “Bureši čaú”, which translates into “Good-bye Bureš”. Bureš was the code-name of Czechian Prime Minister Andrej Babis in the files of Czechoslovakia’s secret police StB. Babis has long faced accusations that he collaborated with the StB under communism, but always denied the allegations.
If you want, you can type in the hidden message (BURESI CAU) on a website made by the Czech Pirates. As it seems, I was the 6037th person to enter the correct phrase. As a reward, I was linked to an advertisement video and the party program.
Let’s hope that the politics of the newly elected EU Parliament willl be as creative as this steganographic publicity stunt.
Further reading: A tombstone bearing a steganographic protest message