Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Germany's top court rejects bid to ban far-right NPD party

Germany's Constitutional Court ruled on Tuesday against banning the far-right, neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD) after a series of failed attempts to do so over the past decade. Experts agree that this would likely be the last chance for German authorities to outlaw the fringe party, though public opinion is split on the matter, sparking debate over the nature of democracy.

Constitutional Court top judge Andreas Vosskuhle said that the request was rejected as the small 5,000 member party does not pose a threat to Germany.

"The NPD pursues anti-constitutional goals, but there is currently no concrete evidence of any weight to suggest that it will succeed," said Vosskuhle.

A previous attempt to ban the NPD failed in 2003 because of the presence of undercover state informants within party ranks directing its activity, while at the same time feeding evidence to investigators.

The current proceedings were initiated in 2013 by the 16 German states, without the Federal Government, which chose not to take part in the case again. The prosecutors will now find out if they managed to convince the court that they have “deactivated” all these agents, and in addition, proved that the party is unconstitutional and poses an active threat to Germany's democratic order and constitutional values.

Some claimed that would be an even bigger challenge, considering the weak state of the NPD. The party, founded in 1964 as a successor to the neo-fascist German Reich Party, went into a downward spiral in recent years, fueled by financial troubles, internal rivalries and a shrinking membership.

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