Czech Senate proposes law banning Communist Party symbols
In October last year, an explicit ban on the propagation of Nazism and Communism was proposed by the upper house of Czech parliament, intended to force the Communist Party to distance itself from its past. The amendment to the penal code was rejected earlier this month by the Chamber of Deputies, where Communist and Social Democrat deputies hold a majority, but its authors said they would resubmit it if the balance of power changed after the elections. Now, a group of senators, led by Martin Mejstrik and Jaromir Stetina, want to propose a new law, extended to include all Communist symbols.
"I think the political reasons for the ban on the propagation of Nazism and Communism are extremely serious, as the existing Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia is contravening Article 5 of the Czech constitution. The article renders it illegal for any party whose policies include violence of any sort to be part of the democratic system, and the manifesto from the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia's last congress includes precisely that. Therefore I believe this is a party against the constitution, and that is why my colleagues and I are taking action."
If passed, the revised law would have a significant impact on the Communist Party, affecting everything from the symbols used in propaganda to party policy, as Senator Stetina explains:
"If this ban, or rather this law, for the prevention of Communist and Nazi propagation were passed, it would mean that the Communist Party would have to be renamed and would need to reapply for registration as a political party. In this process there would be a stage whereby parliament would have to make sure that calls for violent solutions to social problems were omitted from the programme when registering the new left-wing party. Essentially, this is an effort to transform the last Stalinist party in Eastern Europe into, hopefully, a regular left-wing party."
But previous attempts to pass the law have been met by stiff opposition from leftist politicians, amongst others, who claim that there is nothing in the Communist manifesto opposing the Czech constitution and that the amendment is in contravention of freedom-of-speech. And since the Communist Party does not openly condone revolutionary violence at present, experts foresee that this lack of grounds for legal action could cause problems for Stetina's proposal a second time around.