Government report finds insufficient grounds for Communist party ban


The Czech government’s efforts to outlaw the country’s communist party have suffered a setback. A report by the Interior Ministry, as quoted in the daily Lidové noviny on Friday, came to the conclusion that attempts to ban the party based on its political programme would have very little, if any, chances of being accepted by Czech courts. However, the cabinet is yet to debate the issue, and might decide to pursue the ban regardless of the report’s conclusions.

Marta Semelová
Communist MP Marta Semelová in February caused a commotion in the lower house of Parliament, which was at the time debating an anti-communist resistance bill. A fierce opponent of the bill, Ms Semelová instead praised communist-era border guards who killed nearly 150 people attempting to flee the totalitarian country between 1948 and 1989.

The controversy sparked a new round of debate whether the successors of the totalitarian Communist Party of Czechoslovakia should be outlawed, even though a similar attempt by members of the Czech Parliament’s upper house had been rejected by the government in 2009.

A week after Ms Semelová’s remarks, the Czech Interior Ministry set up a special team to compile a report that might justify a petition to the country’s Supreme Administrative Court, demanding the party be dissolved as a threat to democracy.

But on Friday, the daily Lidové noviny reported the analysis came to a conclusion such efforts would stand very small chances, if any, before the court. Karel Bačkovský, from the Interior Ministry, is one of the authors of the analysis.

“Legally speaking, we found that those and other statements by Communist party members presented no real threat to democracy. Another issue is whether we like those comments and consider them decent, true and so on. And we say in the report that we don’t.”

In 2009, the Supreme Administrative court refused to dissolve the far-right Workers’ Party, and outlined the criteria for doing so. The government later filed a better-argued plea, and succeeded in having the party banned.

But according to the Interior Ministry report, the government would hardly justify such a petition concerning the Communists, which have taken in between 12 and 18 percent of votes in the last four general elections. Commentator Zdeněk Zbořil agrees the party poses no major risk to Czech democracy.

Karel Bačkovský
“The current Communist party is a typical opportunist party; it has nothing in common with the revolutionary programme. They use or misuse the sentiments and nostalgia of the older generations. There are other groups – the neo-Nazis, the anarchists, and so on. But the communist party does not play any important role in this political activism.”

The Interior Ministry report will now be debated in the cabinet. As the daily Lidové noviny reported, however, it’s possible that the centre-right government will pursue the ban regardless of the report’s conclusions, as most ministers earlier this year suggested the issue should eventually end up in court.