Court cancels ministry’s ban of communist youth union

The Communist Youth Union got a new lease on life this week after a court cancelled a ban on the organization issued by the Czech Interior Ministry. Falling in line with a previous ruling of the country’s Supreme Administrative Court on the issue, the judges sent the case back to the ministry which should again deliberate whether the far-left group represents a real threat to democracy.

The Communist Youth Union, a far-left organization calling for a “revolutionary overcoming” of capitalism, is free to pursue its activities, four years after it was banned by the Czech Interior Ministry. A court in Prague lifted the ban on Wednesday, although the same court originally upheld the ministry’s decision to dissolve the group. But the Communist Youth Union took the case to the country’s Supreme Administrative Court which last year questioned the necessity of the ban. The head of the union, Milan Krajča, welcomes Wednesday’s ruling.

“Our reaction is of course very positive because after four years of our struggle with the Interior Ministry and the court, we succeeded. It is very significant for us because it means our organization can continue in its work as a legal one, so we can struggle for the rights of the youth legally.”

Miroslav Mareš, a Brno-based political scientist and a leading Czech expert on extremism, told Czech Radio he had doubts about the danger the group represents for democracy in the country.

“I think it is an extremist organization but as of now it does not have the potential to overthrow the democratic regime in this country. I also don’t think that in the future they will appeal to any large numbers of young people. The organization should be monitored by the state and its security agencies to make sure there are no militant tendencies. But given the fact that the Supreme Administrative Court laid out a relatively loose legal framework on the issue, I consider Wednesday’s decision by the court in Prague to be correct.”

Meanwhile, the Communist Youth Union, with an estimated hundred or so members, is going to continue to pursue its agenda, ranging from anti-imperialism to the defence of free education. And they are not planning to tone down their rhetoric, either.

“We have never said we would overthrow the constitutional order. The problem at the court was that the ministry thought we were against the constitution because we struggle for socialism and for the public ownership of means of production. And the court said yesterday this was not a problem. We think that it’s important to say there is an alternative to capitalism, that the alternative is socialism, and what socialism means.”

The case now goes back to the Interior Ministry which should once again examine how serious is the threat posed by the controversial organization.