Leader of Workers’ Party promises reformation under new name as government requests banning|
The government is seeking the banning of the Workers’ Party, the
far-right grouping who made international headlines after trying to attack
a largely Romany estate in a north Bohemian town last week. At the same
time, the party’s leader has already said that if they are banned they
will simply come back under a different name.
Dělnická strana (the Workers’ Party) entered the public consciousness
in a big way last Monday, when several hundred of their supporters fought a
pitched battle with police in Litvínov, after they were prevented from
entering a mostly Romany estate. It was the worst street violence seen in
the Czech Republic in several years and made the news around Europe.
However, the Workers’ Party were not an unknown quantity before that
rioting. Groups monitoring far-right extremism had been calling for their
prohibition for some time. And the minister of the interior, Ivan Langer,
was already working on a proposal to ban them.
With the events in Litvínov having brought the subject into the
spotlight, the cabinet on Monday backed Mr Langer’s plan to ask the
Supreme Administrative Court to ban the neo-Nazi grouping. It is the first
time since the fall of communism in 1989 that such a request has been made
by the government on the basis of the actual activities of an extremist
group; previously, parties have been barred on technicalities.
Justifying the banning request at a news conference, Minister Langer read
from a recent Workers’ Party’s statement, in which they call for zero
tolerance towards the post-revolution political system, the elimination of
which they have been demanding for some time.
Now it is the Workers’ Party themselves that could be eliminated.
However, what that means in practical terms could be hard to measure, as
the group’s leader Tomáš Vandas has already said its members would
reform under a different name.
By the way, Mr Vandas has a history in extremist politics: in the 1990s he
was a member of Miroslav Sládek’s Republicans, the only far-right party
ever to enter the Czech Parliament. Another Worker’s Party leader, Erik
Sedláček, is currently in prison for Holocaust denial and calling for the
liquidation of Jews.
As well as pushing for the barring of the Workers’ Party, the cabinet on
Monday voted to establish by the end of February a new inter-ministerial
body to monitor extremists on both the far-right and the far-left.
Meanwhile in Litvínov, where the Workers’ Party and their supporters
went on the rampage eight days ago, the local authorities are bracing
themselves for more trouble. Several applications to hold demonstrations
have been lodged at the town hall. Some are from Romany and Jewish groups.
The others are from neo-Nazis, including the Workers’ Party, who want to
hold a protest on December 13 against police brutality and in support of
“dealing with the problem of unadaptable residents” – code for