Senate proposes to ban propagation of Nazism and Communism
The upper house of Parliament on Thursday approved a bill that would ban propagation of Nazism and Communism in the Czech Republic. Anyone caught violating the ban could be sentenced to up to eight years in prison. Although the bill stands little chance of becoming law, it has evoked many questions: primarily why wasn't the issue confronted 16 years ago, immediately after the fall of Communism.
"Well, as a number of senators pointed out, there simply wasn't enough political will for it at the time. Part of the Communist party was then supporting the democratization process - at least on paper - and I believe that many people simply thought that the Communists would be marginalized or pushed out of politics entirely by the will of the people in democratic elections."
But the largely unreformed Communist party is still in Parliament. It has over one million supporters and is playing a fairly active role in Czech politics. So is this a belated attempt to ban it?
"Well, no. The bill was approved by 41 out of 53 senators present and all those who raised their hands in favour of it were aware that it stood practically no chance of approval in the lower house of Parliament where the Social Democrats and the Communists are strong enough to sweep it off the table. Communist MPs have already ridiculed it and called it unconstitutional. But I think that for most of the senators it was a question of taking a moral stand - belated as it was. I spoke earlier to independent senator Edvard Outrata who supported the bill and he said that, if approved, it would force the Communist Party to change its name and policy and distance itself from the past. But he said that nobody was really expecting that to happen, because the bill will almost certainly be rejected in the lower house by the left wing parties. Senator Outrata himself said he had other reasons for supporting the bill.
"For me the most important issue is that Nazism is treated differently from Communism and I feel that's wrong. It is immoral to recognize any difference between the two. Others thought otherwise. A significant part of the right wing senators simply felt that such a statement must now be made because if it wasn't we'd allow a merger of left wing parties which would propagate communism much more than has happened in the past. Personally, I don't think that's true but that was the intent of some of these people."