The Constitutional Court decided on a petition to initiate proceedings to establish the unconstitutionality of the programme of the Levica [The Left] political party and of the activities of the Levica and Socialni demokrati [The Social Democrats] (hereinafter referred to as the SD) political parties. The petitioners alleged that it follows from the actions of these political parties and from the actions of their members and the programme of the Levica party that they did not distance themselves from the past totalitarian communist system, due to which their alleged unconstitutional activities and the challenged part of the programme of the Levica party must be prohibited.
The Constitutional Court stressed that the activities of political parties are necessarily connected with the exercise of the principle of the people’s sovereignty and the freedom of expression. Therefore, political parties must be ensured freedom during their establishment, with regard to their programmes, in their activities, and in their influence on the formation of the political will of the people. The state must ensure effective implementation of these requirements, and must otherwise refrain from interfering and exerting influence in the field of political parties. The prohibition of their activities can thus only be a measure of last resort (ultima ratio). Therefore, a constitutional intervention by the Constitutional Court as regards the admissibility of the activities of a political party that remain within the admissible limits of the exercise of the freedom of expression merely because it perhaps criticises the constitutional order in force or individual parts thereof or strives in a non-forceful way to amend such, cannot be justified. Namely, the prohibition of the activities of a political party must not be a means to prohibit the expression of a certain worldview, political positions and beliefs, or even political ideologies. The Constitutional Court also stressed that, from the constitutional perspective, it is something completely different if individuals or groups of individuals advocate and support certain unconstitutional values within the framework of their personal (political) beliefs than if the authorities in power identify with such values through symbols when adopting general or individual authoritative decisions.
The Constitutional Court formulated the criteria for the review of the unconstitutionality of the activities and acts of political parties as follows: (1) Does the political party threaten the fundamental constitutional values determined by Article 63 of the Constitution that refer to respect for human dignity as determined by Article 1 of the Constitution and which are the core of free democratic regulation? (2) Is the threat serious? A party must be acting systematically and in a planned manner to realise objectives that are contrary to the values enshrined in Article 63 of the Constitution; there must exist a realistic possibility that such objectives are realised. (3) Does the party operate in a constitutionally inadmissible manner or by means that are constitutionally inadmissible? The use of violence, threats, or other forms of intimidation is prohibited. (4) Does the unconstitutionality of the activities of the political party follow from its actions or the actions of its bodies or from the systematic and planned actions of its members or even sympathisers if their actions reflect clearly identifiable objectives of the party or the party has accepted their actions as its own?
In the case at issue, without ascertaining whether the allegations concerning the actual circumstances of the allegedly unconstitutional activities of the Levica and SD parties are sufficiently concretised and real, the Constitutional Court assessed that any advocation – in either the programme of the party or through the statements or actions of the party (i.e. of its members) – of a different system of economic and social order, including an ideology based on publicly-owned means of production and workers’ management of companies, would not entail unconstitutional activities or acts of the party because it would not threaten human dignity in relation to the fundamental constitutional values enshrined in Article 63 of the Constitution. Not even the possible use of the symbols of the communist system at events organised by a party (SD) which is not an authority in power and does not exert authoritative powers or the possible expression of an inclination towards the leading figures of such system would entail incitement to national, racial, religious, or other discrimination, or the inflaming of national, racial, religious, or other hatred, or incitement to violence and war. The same applies to the statement of a deputy that the SD party is the proud successor to the Zveza komunistov [The League of Communists]. This entails an expression of his political beliefs that does not threaten the fundamental constitutional values of a free democratic society, which are protected by Article 63 of the Constitution. In the assessment of the Constitutional Court, it is not possible to establish – on the basis of the allegations of the petitioner regarding the actions of the SD and Levica parties, even if they were true, or on the basis of the challenged provisions of the programme of Levica – that the parties did not distance themselves from the ideology of the former totalitarian regime in such a way that any threat to the constitutional values enshrined in Article 63 of the Constitution would follow from the party’s alleged inclination and activities. Furthermore, the alleged actions of the SD and Levica parties manifestly do not entail inadmissible activities involving the use of force or threats. In view of the above, the Constitutional Court assessed that the allegations of the petitioner that the alleged actions entail unconstitutional activities of the SD and Levica parties and that the challenged provisions of the programme of Levica are unconstitutional are manifestly unfounded. Therefore, the Constitutional Court dismissed the petition as manifestly unfounded.