Germany's Bundesrat moves to ban far-right NPD
The Bundesrat – the upper body of the German parliament, which represents the country's 16 federal states – is due to submit its renewed application for an NPD ban to the constitutional court in Karlsruhe on Tuesday.
A previous attempt to ban the far-right party failed 10 years ago. In 2003, an application was rejected after it emerged that 30 out of 200 members of the NPD leadership had been informants paid for by the state: some judges felt that this invalidated the evidence presented by the applicants.
But state officials are confident that they have a stronger case for a ban this time. Their application will draw solely on publicly available material and two reports by academics, none of it provided by so-called V-Personen, or informants.
According to a report in the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the application will focus less on the NPD's xenophobic and antisemitic rhetoric and more on its anti-constitutional tendencies. The party's stated aim is to create "a community of physically and spiritually homogeneous people".
One of the reasons behind the renewed application is the National Socialist Underground scandal. The terrorist group is implicated in the murder of nine migrants and a police officer. Investigations into the NSU's network revealed close links to NPD functionaries in Jena, a city near Leipzig.
Neither the current nor the likely next coalition government is planning to get formally involved in the application. Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said the NPD was an anti-democratic, xenophobic and an antisemitic party that should be fought with all means, but that the government did not consider a renewed ban application necessary.
If the application were to succeed, the NPD would become the third party to be ruled unconstitutional in postwar Germany. The neo-Nazi Socialist Reichsparty was banned in 1952 and the German Communist party in 1956.
An NPD ban may not appear as urgent as it used to: after almost making it into the Bundestag in 1969, the party gained only 1.3% of the vote in the general elections in September. Yet in Saxony and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the NPD has been an unwelcome state parliament presence since the middle of the last decade.
In 2005, the NPD created a scandal when its members left the chamber of the Saxony parliament during a minute's silence for the victims of National Socialism. The NPD leader, Holger Apfel, has also described the allied attack on Dresden during the second world war as a "bomb holocaust".