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Bid to ban neo-Nazi party flounders as FDP baulks
Photo: DPA

Bid to ban neo-Nazi party flounders as FDP baulks

Published: 18 Mar 2013 16:20 GMT+01:00
Updated: 18 Mar 2013 16:20 GMT+01:00

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

"We cannot agree to an application to ban [the party]," said FDP leader Philipp Rösler on Monday and added that his liberal-leaning party had always been against a ban. "You can't put a ban on stupidity," he said.

His words drew sharp criticism from the Central Council of Jews in Germany, which accused Rösler of downplaying the danger from 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.

A potential ban on the party was about preventing tax money going to finance "hate," said Graumann and said that with their "signal of political indecision" the FDP had put a de facto block on the ban.

The last attempt in 2003 by the then government to outlaw the NPD failed after legal complications arose from the presence of state intelligence agents in the party ranks.

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, in which most of the 10 victims 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.

Yet high-ranking politicians including Chancellor Angela Merkel and Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich have raised doubts about whether a ban would hold up in court.

All five of Chancellor Merkel's FDP cabinet ministers, including Economics Minister Rösler, said they would not support the ban on Monday, 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.

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 fringe neo-Nazi party could find itself on much shakier legal ground.

DPA/The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:22 March 18, 2013 by neunElf
Good for Rösler!

The one thing which will destroy extremists is ample sunlight. Much better than driving them underground.

Freedom can be very messy at times, but still far preferable to an elite class deciding what is and isn't worthy of the citizens attention.
19:41 March 18, 2013 by gorongoza
Herr Rösler, your stance on this issue may not appease the NDP - I am sorry to warn you on this one.
13:47 March 19, 2013 by raandy
neunElf couldn't agree more.
14:50 March 19, 2013 by Bulldawg82
@ neunElf. You are absolutely correct.
20:14 March 19, 2013 by liondens
Rösler is a good German no doubt, but he also an Asian after all. And it seems that only the Asians are possessing both brains and balls these days! Germany and Europe need more people like Rösler!
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