As reported in several media outlets (e.g. here), the Czech Republic’s Supreme Administrative Court has banned the far-right Workers’ Party, established in 2003. The court held that the party advocates a dangerous xenophobic, homophobic, anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi agenda and thus poses an intolerable threat to Czech democracy. Perhaps some of our readers in the Czech Republic can add some imprtant details on today’s ruling, its conxtext and reasoning.
This appears to be an interesting ruling in several respects, in addition to the obvious question of constitutional democracy’s boundaries of self-defence. First, the rise of extreme right wing, radically nationalist, anti-immigrant, xenophobic parties in European politics is a phenomenon that stretches from France to Austria to parts of post-communist Europe. The troubled history of 20th century European politics is well known in that respect. A core justification of judicial review in the post-World War II era points to the utter failure of weak courts with non meaningful review powers to block the rise of Nazism and fascism in their early days. Second, the increasing number of high court rulings on disbandment of political parties, e.g. in Spain (the Basque party Herri Batasuna; approved by the ECtHR in 2009), Turkey (19 times since 1983, most recently the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party DTP), and Belgium (the Flemish right-wing separatist Vlaams Blok Party), not to mention countries where popular political movements are outlawed in the first place (e.g. the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt). And to these scenarios we can add banning on corruption or on violation of election law charges of popular parties or elected political leaders (e.g. Thailand of the last few years). Third, the Czech Republic has an interesting recent history with respect to party politics in the courts. In 1993, for example, a law declaring the entire communist regime era illegal and illegitimate was passed, and even survived a constitutional scrutiny. Finally, it is not clear just how effective such bans on radical political parties actually are beyond the powerful symbolic statement itself. At least in the case of Belgium, the banned party resurfaced a few months after the ban, this time under a different name (Vlaams Belang) and with a slightly toned down platform.