2007-08-31 Hardy Graupner
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Germany wants to ban the NPD again

Leaflet of NDPLeaflet of NDP
A fresh series of racially-motivated attacks on foreigners over the past two weeks has refuelled a debate over banning the far-right National Democratic Party. The European Union’s justice Commissioner, Franco Frattini, was quoted as saying he’d back a ban. A previous attempt to ban it was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2003, after it came out that some testimony came from informants in the party. From Berlin, Deutsche Welle’s Hardy Graupner has more:

Earlier this month, a local mob in the eastern German town of Muegeln attacked and hurt eight Indian street vendors. LAst weekend weekend, physical assaults on foreigners were reported in three other places in Germany. And every time when a series of racially motivated attacks on foreigners gets coverage in the media, mainstream politicians here resort to a knee-jerk reaction and launch a debate on banning of the far-right National Democratic Party which is represented in several regional state parliaments. But chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats have become a great deal more cautious on this front after a failed attempt to ban the NPD in 2003. CDU interior affairs spokesman Wolfgang Bosbach says that as long as the state has informers in the NPD, one shouldn’t even think about going to court again:

Neonazi demonstration in Lübeck, GermanyNeonazi demonstration in Lübeck, Germany
”The NPD is a dangerous party, he says. And this is why we cannot do without informers providing the intelligence services with important details about its activities. A renewed attempt to ban this party could again last several years and I don’t think we should take the risk of failing again.”

Berlin’s Social Democrat interior minister Ehrhart Körting disagrees. He believes that the informers are of no great value and that intelligence agencies could stop using them:

”Whenever the NPD violates the spirit and letter of the Constitution, it doesn’t happen in a clandestine way, he says. Everyone can hear and see what they think and do. In other words, I don’t really need any intelligence people to find out just how dangerous the NPD is. And if you don’t employ any informers any more, the chances of banning the party will be excellent.”

NDP demonstrationNDP demonstration
Koerting says it’s hard to communicate to people why a party like this even receives state funding and is able to use the money to build up its regional structures particularly in eastern Germany:

”The fact that the NPD is able to act in public the way it does sends out a signal to many people here that there’s nothing wrong with harbouring anti-foreigner sentiments, says Koerting. Banning the party would certainly keep a lot of people from openly supporting the party’s ideology. I’m not saying that you can prevent attacks on foreigners completely just by banning the NPD, but we would certainly be able to reduce the number of such incidents.”

But such arguments cut little ice with the conservative interior minister in the southern state of Bavaria, Guenter Beckstein. He argues that banning a party doesn’t remove its ideology. And the risk of losing a court battle again is too high:

”A second failure would boost the NPD’s morale in an irresponsible manner, he says. It would be the breeding ground for even more radicalism. Politically, it would be a disaster, and we shouldn’t really let this happen.”

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