Acquisition of Legal Personality and Registration

Presidential Party of Mordovia v Russia, 5 October 2004 [ECtHR]

Case no 65659/01

25.  The applicant claimed that the authorities’ refusal to renew its registration as a political party was contrary to domestic law and was not necessary in a democratic society. It thus constituted an unjustified interference with its right to freedom of association, contrary to Article 11 of the Convention ...

26.  The Government accepted, in view of the domestic courts’ findings, that the refusal to renew the applicant party’s registration and its dissolution were unlawful. However, they maintained that there has been no violation of the applicant party rights under Article 11 of the Convention since the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Mordovia, acting as a supervisory instance, acknowledged that and on 5 September 2002 ordered the registration of the applicant party.

27.  The applicant contested the Government’s arguments, referring to the fact that through lack of registration it was not able to function for over three years, could not run for the 1999 elections and, furthermore, was prevented from renewing its registration in 2002 due to legislative changes.  

28.  The Court recalls that Article 11 applies to associations, such as political parties (see United Communist Party of Turkey and Others v. Turkey, judgment of 30 January 1998, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1998-I, and Socialist Party and Others v. Turkey, judgment of 25 May 1998, Reports 1998-III), all the more so to a party which, like the applicant, is not suspected of undermining the constitutional structures.

29.  The Court also reiterates that a refusal to register an association may amount to an interference with the exercise of the right to freedom of association (see, inter alia, the Sidiropoulos and others v. Greece judgment of 10 July 1998, Reports 1998-IV, §§ 31, 40). 

30.  The Court further notes that the Government’s argument concerning the reparation of the refusal to register the applicant party is a restatement of their preliminary objection examined and dismissed by the Court in its admissibility decision of 9 September 2003. 

31.  The Court accepts that the measure in question must have affected the applicant party, as claimed, since it was unable to function for a substantial period of time and could not participate in regional elections. Furthermore, the damage appears irreparable given that, under current legislation, the party cannot be reconstituted in its original concept. 

32.  It is not in dispute that the interference in question was not “prescribed by law”. Having reached this conclusion, the Court does not consider it necessary to ascertain whether the other requirements of paragraph 2 of Article 11 were complied with in the instant case – namely, whether the interference pursued a legitimate aim and whether it was necessary in a democratic society. 

33.  There has therefore been a violation of Article 11 of the Convention.

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