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German Constitutional Court legalizes nazi party

Source: HOPE not hate | Thursday, 19 January 2017

A personal comment from Michael Klein in Berlin

On 17 January, the German Federal Constitutional Court delivered its long-awaited decision on banning the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD).

In short, it argued that the political program and character of the NPD is racist and Nazi but that the party is not important, strong and dangerous enough to put democracy at risk. For that reason, the banning weapon should not be used.

While it is true that the NPD has seen better times (but worse times as well), it still has some 5,500 members, runs anti-immigrant campaigns and holds more than 300 municipal council seats.

The Court argued that the NPD is indeed a racist party and even equals National Socialism but, by not banning it, the Court has legalised not only the NPD but also any other party that openly refers to Nazi ideas.

According to German law, legal parties have access to public money, their campaign videos have to be broadcast at election times and have preferred rights to assemble in public.

Unless such a party is using banned symbols like the swastika or spreads very extreme hate speech or turns to large scale violent action there will be no way to outlaw a clearly nazi party in Germany in future. As a result, NPD leaders have called on racists in other groups to join them in their now “safe” NPD.

While the Court argued that a ban might again be an option if such a party becomes politically relevant – leaving open if this means 10 percent or 20 percent of the votes – the current situation with the populist AfD shows that, in a case of mass support, the argument will be that it would be undemocratic to ban a party that represents that many people.

Difficult times for anti-fascists facing a growing right-wing populist party and a Nazi party with a state licence to hate.

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