A Czech court banned the far-right Workers' Party on Wednesday, the first time since the end of communist rule in 1989 that a political party has been outlawed on the grounds of extremism.
The Workers' Party has support among the relatively thin ranks of Czech neo-Nazis but has also appealed to other voters frustrated by social and ethnic tensions in some neighbourhoods inhabited by a Roma minority.
The High Administrative Court said in its ruling, based on a complaint from the government, that the party's platform and symbols had roots in Adolf Hitler's Nazism.
"This ruling needs to be understood as a preventative one, to maintain the constitutional and democratic order in the future," judge Vojtech Simicek said.
The party's chief, Tomas Vandas, said he would appeal against the decision at the Constitutional Court, Czech Television reported.
The decision was welcomed by the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), a Roma support group, which said violence connected with right-wing extremism was on the rise across central Europe.
"We hope that the decision of the Czech Supreme Court banning the Workers' Party will contribute to a more favourable climate for Roma and other minorities in the country," said Rob Kushen of the ERRC.
"More importantly, however, the Czech authorities must act aggressively to prosecute Workers' Party members and other individuals who have committed crimes against Roma."
The party won just over 1 percent of the vote in last year's election for the European Parliament and had stood little chance of crossing the 5 percent threshold needed to win seats in parliament in an election scheduled for May.
Extremist parties have made advances in some central European countries amid the economic crisis, mainly in Hungary where the far-right Jobbik won three seats in the European Parliament election last year.
In the Czech Republic, the most radical party in parliament is the Communists, heir to the country's former totalitarian rulers.
Opinion polls show the centre-left Social Democrats will likely win the most votes in the May 28-29 election, but it is not clear whether they will be able to form a majority coalition.
ReutersLast Mod: 17 Şubat 2010, 21:17