Sunday 30 April 2017

German supreme court rejects bid to outlaw far-right party

Peter Marx, executive of the NPD parliament faction in the state parliament in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, left, flashes a victory sign at the German constitutional court in Karlsruhe (Uli Deck/pool photo via AP)
Peter Marx, executive of the NPD parliament faction in the state parliament in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, left, flashes a victory sign at the German constitutional court in Karlsruhe (Uli Deck/pool photo via AP)

Germany's supreme court has rejected a bid by politicians to outlaw a far-right party accused of pursuing a racist and anti-Semitic agenda.

Andreas Vosskuhle, chief justice of the Federal Constitutional Court, said that while the party's goals run counter to the German constitution, "there are currently no concrete indications... that its actions will lead to success".

The German parliament's upper house had applied for the ban at the end of 2013.

It was the second attempt to ban the National Democratic Party, better known by its German acronym NPD.

In 2003, the court rejected a previous application because paid government informants within the group were partially responsible for evidence against it.

Mr Vosskuhle, in explaining the verdict, cited the party's political irrelevance, pointing out that it has only a single seat in the European Parliament and that the NPD's election results have in recent years been "on a low level".

He said that a party's questionable ideology alone was not reason enough for a ban.

A party would need to be actively working to abolish Germany's free and democratic order, he said, adding: "There's no evidence for this here."

The rise of the nationalist Alternative for Germany party, which has attacked Chancellor Angela Merkel for allowing large numbers of migrants into the country and appeals to a much broader range of protest voters, has eroded the NPD's support in recent years.

The party is not represented in the Bundestag after winning just 1.3% of the vote in the last national election in 2013.

Parties need to pass a 5% threshold to win seats in the federal parliament.

It is still represented at the local level, though, and receives money just like other parties based on its electoral performance.

The NPD could not immediately be reached for comment, but celebrated the verdict on Facebook saying it was "now fully back in business".

Only two parties have been outlawed in West Germany and reunited Germany - the neo-Nazi Socialist Reich Party in 1952 and the German Communist Party in 1956.

AP

Press Association

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