Top German court refuses to outlaw far-right NPD party
BERLIN/KARLSRUHEGermany’s Constitutional Court on Jan. 17 said the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) resembled Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party, but ruled against banning it because it presented no threat to democracy.
Germany’s intelligence agency described the NPD as racist and anti-Semitic and the attempt by the country’s 16 federal states to outlaw the party came amid rising support for right-wing groups stoked by popular resentment over the influx of migrants.
While the court said the party’s aims violated the constitution, it ruled that there was insufficient evidence it would wield power. Under German law there must be hard proof that a party puts democracy at risk for it to be banned.
“The NPD intends to replace the existing constitutional system with an authoritarian national state that adheres to the idea of an ethnically defined ‘people’s community’,” the court said in its ruling, according to Reuters.
“However, currently there is a lack of specific and weighty indications suggesting that this endeavor will be successful.”
The tough conditions for banning a political party is in part a legacy of the crushing of dissent in the Nazi era and communist East Germany.
The case marks the second failed attempt to outlaw the NPD of Germany, with the latest launched by the Bundesrat upper house of parliament which represents Germany’s 16 states.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government supported the case, although the executive did not formally join the high-stakes legal maneuver.
The Bundesrat had launched the challenge in 2013, as the country was reeling in shock over the 2011 discovery of a murderous group calling itself the National Socialist Underground.
Racist killings by the group had prompted Germany to crack down against right-wing extremism.
But since then, the NPD has lost its remaining seats in state parliaments, retaining just one representative, Udo Voigt, in the European Parliament.
It has also lost ground to the anti-euro fringe party Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has morphed into an anti-immigration force railing against the mass arrivals of refugees in 2015.