Far-right NPD gets day in Constitutional Court

Far-right NPD gets day in Constitutional Court
An NPD demonstration in Thuringian capital Erfurt in May 2015. Photo: DPA
Germany's Constitutional Court has set a date in early 2016 for a controversial trial which could see the far-right National Democraic Party (NPD) banned.

The Court announced that hearings would take place from March 1st to March 3rd next year.

While there was no legal justification for naming a start date in the announcement, booking days in court means that the judges must have decided the case meets certain minimum standards.

The Bundesrat, the upper house of the German parliament which represents the governments of the federal states, launched the bid to ban the NPD in December 2013, arguing that the party is hostile to the German constitution and to democracy.

But the case is likely to be fraught with difficulties.

A previous attempt to have the NPD banned failed in 2003 after it emerged that Germany's domestic intelligence service, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (VS) had informants at the highest levels of the party, which it had not revealed to the court.

The failure of that trial is one reason why MPs in the Bundestag (German parliament) and the federal government did not join the new legal case against the NPD.

In March, the Constitutional Court had asked state representatives to provide more evidence that intelligence agents were not still active in the NPD.

Only two political parties have ever been banned in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany: the national-socialist “Socialist Reich Party” (SRP) in 1952 and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) in 1956.