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Czech court bans far-right Workers' Party
17-02-2010  Sarah Borufka

On Wednesday, the Supreme Administrative Court in Brno delivered the first-ever verdict outlawing a political party in the Czech Republic. It ruled in favour of the government’s proposal to ban the far-right Workers Party on the grounds that it spreads xenophobia and racial hatred. Sarah Borufka has the details.

The head of the Supreme Administrative Court Vojtěch Šimíček on Wednesday announced what was possibly the most-awaited verdict this year. The court ruled in favor of the government’s proposal to ban the far-right Workers’ Party, on grounds that the party is a threat to democracy and promotes hatred directed against minorities. Political analyst Miroslav Mareš says the verdict sets an important precedent.

Tomáš Vandas, photo: CTK “It’s very important for the future of the political culture here in the Czech Republic. It will set the boundaries for the political activities of extremist parties. It provides a clear distinction on what is acceptable and what is against the law, which are mostly the acts of violence but also the xenophobic rhetoric and the racist and anti-Semitic statements of the party members.”

A first attempt by the previous center-right government to ban the far-right party failed last year due to lack of evidence. For the second proposal, the current caretaker government compiled over a hundred pages of evidence as opposed to the four pages that were presented along with the first proposal.

Among the evidence was an expert assessment of the party’s symbols and language that concluded they were reminiscent of the terminology and images of the Third Reich. 28 members of the party were shown to have tight connections to the violent far-right group National Resistance. In addition, a great many police officers who had experienced clashes with members of the Workers’ Party at Neo-Nazi marches testified in court.

Tomáš Vandas, photo: CTK At a press conference following the verdict, Interior Minister Martin Pecina thanked all officers who testified in the case.

“I want to thank the police of the Czech Republic, most of all the officers who gave testimony in court about what they had seen at events of the Workers’ Party. Their attitude and their courage can serve as a good example to us all”

The court reached the conclusion that the party’s program, which includes a ban on gay marriages and an end to any financial support for immigrants living in the Czech Republic, violates human rights guaranteed by the constitution.

Although a bad blow to the party, the verdict will not stop its members from running in May’s general elections. Party chairman Tomáš Vandas made it clear that he and others intended to run for a party that is closely connected to the dissolved Workers’ Party. Miroslav Mareš again.

Miroslav Mareš “The real political effect is limited. The party has various possibilities how to be politically active in the future. They could found a new party or run for the already existing Workers’ Party of Social Solidarity and it’s a possible successor of the Workers’ Party. I think the members of the dissolved Worker’s Party could also become some sort of martyr figures for the movement in the future.”

Other political analysts such as Zdeněk Zbořil believe that the verdict will send a signal against extremist ideology in general, no matter who promotes it.

“Maybe it’s the most important decision this court has made and a signal not only to the so-called extremist parties but also to people in mainstream parties who behave like extremists.”

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