Daily Israel Report

Ban of German Neo-Nazi Party Likely to Fall Short

A Germany bid to ban NPD neo-Nazi party faced opposition as junior coalition partners of the Free Democrats (FDP) came out against the move.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 3/19/2013, 2:45 PM

Faction leader of the liberal Free Democratic Party
Faction leader of the liberal Free Democratic Party
Reuters

A bid by Germany's upper house of parliament to ban the NPD neo-Nazi party faced opposition on Monday as junior coalition partners of the Free Democrats (FDP) came out against the move.

"We cannot agree to an application to ban [the party]," insisted FDP leader Philipp Rosler, according to a German English news source, The Local. "You can't put a ban on stupidity," he said, adding that his liberal-leaning party had always been against a ban.

His words drew sharp criticism from the Central Council of Jews in Germany, which maintained that Rosler was downplaying the danger posed by the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD). 

"It's a disastrous and wrong move on the part of the FDP," president of the council Dieter Graumann told the Handelsblatt newspaper on Monday, adding that tax money is being used to finance hate.

A previous attempt to ban the party was put forth in 2003 but failed after the presence of state intelligence agents in the party ranks created legal complications.

This latest anti-NPD initiative originated in the Bundesrat upper house of parliament last year, prompted by the discovery in November 2011 of a far-right terrorist cell believed to be behind a murder spree stretching back seven years. Most of the 10 victims of the murder spree were immigrant shopkeepers.

Last December, representatives from Germany's 16 states voted unanimously, bar one abstention, to ask the country's highest constitutional court to ban the party on the grounds that it sought to undermine the national constitution.

High-ranking politicians, however, including Chancellor Angela Merkel and Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, have raised doubts about whether a ban would hold up in court, The Local reported.

All five of Chancellor Merkel's FDP cabinet ministers said they would not support the ban, meaning the governing coalition as a whole was now unlikely to back the legally contentious move.

Merkel has said she would be seeking a unanimous decision within her cabinet when it met to discuss the ban on Wednesday, according to the paper.

The lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, has also not yet indicated whether it will support the states' initiative, but without government backing, the attempt to ban the neo-Nazi party is likely to fall short.