Let us begin here, with the ECfHR Chamber Judgment ruling Erbakan v Turkey no. 59405/00, § 56, 6.07.2006, for it is an important ruling when considering what follows below:
“… tolerance and respect for the equal dignity of all human beings constitute the foundations of a democratic, pluralistic society. That being so, as a matter of principle it may be considered necessary in certain democratic societies to sanction or even prevent all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred based on intolerance…..
……the Court is also careful to make a distinction in its findings between, on the one hand, genuine and serious incitement to extremism and, on the other hand, the right of individuals, including journalists and politicians to express their views freely and to “offend, shock or disturb” others.”
A ruling necessary to consider as the Communist Party of Ukraine ceases to exist – banned under a new Ukrainian law, with effect from today.
As democracy demands all political parties that adhere to, and remain within the law, be allowed to engage in the political discourse, particularly so those with sufficient constituency support to enter legislative bodies as the Communist Party currently does – even if only just enough to pass the 5% threshold to sit in the RADA as a party.
Thus there is a need to ponder how a democratically elected party garnering more than the 5% electoral threshold to sit in the RADA can be denied its place in the political discourse.
The reason for the immediate demise of the Communist Party was to relate to support for the “federalisation” of Ukraine and allegations of “incitement” of people in eastern Ukraine beginning back in March, against the current leadership. However, within the technicalities of the RADA, the shrinking in size of the Communist Party from 33 to 23 MPs could allow for the dissolution of the Communist Party as a RADA force – but that is not the same as banning the entire party.
Whilst “federalising” Ukraine would be a disaster for the nation in the current circumstances, giving The Kremlin a mechanism to manipulate to its advantage – and hence why the current Ukrainian leadership will not pursue that avenue – supporting “federalisation” vocally in the RADA or anywhere else is not a crime. It surely falls within the rights of a politician and/or political party to “express their views freely” even if it “offend, shock or disturb others”.
Now it may be that the Communist Party support for “federalisation” and “incitement” went far beyond vocal support against the current authorities in Kyiv – both in the RADA and within the eastern regions. Perhaps there was financial support that was deliberately opaque, intended and used for nefarious criminal acts. Perhaps there was administrative and/or organisational support for action that deliberately went far beyond any boundaries of peaceful, legal and legitimate protest. In short active assistance or participation in clearly unlawful incidents.
If so, then that is a matter for the courts to consider, which they have been doing for some months, and any court ruling of guilt would therefore give good grounds for the banning of the Communist Party, having failed to remain within the legal boundaries incumbent on all political actors in a democracy. In short, by remaining entirely lawful, democracy demands political inclusion. If not, democracy demands its exclusion.
As yet, there is no court decision – though one may arrive on cue today to underpin the ban, after the law allowing for the banning of political parties guilty of various actions was signed only two days ago by the president – something which naturally provides for a particularly poor perception and reeks of a political and swiftly following legal stitch up – regardless of how good or bad any evidence against the Communist Party actually is. Perhaps the RADA technicality will be the singular mechanism to remove the Communists from the RADA.
Cynically one may ask whether any court judgment will arrive before or after the official banning.
Rumour has it the coalitions in the RADA will deliberately collapse themselves today to allow for new elections to be called for 26 October
— Nikolai Holmov (@OdessaBlogger) July 24, 2014
If there is any traction within the above tweet, perhaps it may have been wiser to instigate a legal investigation into the alleged incitement etc, pass the relevant laws to ban parties found guilty of such crimes, but in the meantime hold the early RADA elections and let the Communists fight against the 5% threshold to enter the RADA as a party? It is not beyond comprehension that legal judgments can be so delayed as to fit such a timetable after all.
Surely it is better to have the Communist Party die at the ballot box through insufficient support as the first option. Let democracy kill it at the polls if it can, and thereafter await any judgments should it survive – or not. Legally beheading it, live or dead, post the elections seems far more elegant and less hurried – giving due consideration to the accompanying perceptions that go with both timetables.
Presumably the Communist Party MPs being democratically elected will retain their mandates and are now to be without a party. If they are to be individually held responsible for any wrong doing and their mandates stripped, is banning the entire party and those not involved warranted considering the party’s democratic mandate from the constituency? If the RADA deliberately assassinates itself today as rumour has it, was there a need to ban the Communist Party now?
Thus the banning of the party may lead to little more than a change from the comical People’s Front of Judea, to the Judean People’s Front at the next elections.
The same feckless MPs, with the same ideology (which is far from communist ideology to be blunt) re-branded.
This blog has made no secret regarding an absolute loathing of communism and fascism in equal measure. Both are simply cancerous and odious ideologies. There are no historical entries in support of either. There are however, numerous entries robustly criticising and bemoaning both the Communist Party and the far right politicians alike and in equal measure. That will remain the case.
That there is reason, even if only symbolically, to celebrate the banning of the Communist Party from Ukrainian politics? Absolutely – goodbye and good riddance! Let us hope that the far right political parties and politicians follow in short order too.
Yet there is reason to have concern about how this has been engineered and the perceptions it will project – rightly or wrongly – regarding democracy in Ukraine? Sadly very much so based upon the evidence available in the public domain against the Communist Party when held against the ECfHR ruling that begins this entry – RADA technicalities or no.