By Sarah Lafen
Impunity Watch Desk Reporter, Europe
BERLIN, Germany — This past Tuesday, Germany’s highest court unanimously rejected a proposal to ban the far-right neo-Nazi political party. In 2013, 16 German states submitted a petition to ban the party, citing an alleged racist and anti-Semitic agenda as reasons to support the ban. The petition also claimed that the group’s views violate Germany’s constitution.
As reason for rejecting the proposal, the court ruled that the party does not pose a serious-enough threat to Germany’s democratic system. In its verdict, the Federal Constitutional Court explained that they rejected the motion to ban the group as groundless because of a “lack of concrete evidence to make it seem likely that [the party’s] actions will lead to success…” Per Germany’s constitution, a political party can only be banned if they pose an actual threat to democracy. Andreas Vosskuhle, president of the presiding court, further explained that in the court’s eyes, a party which “has aims that run contrary to the Constitution is not sufficient grounds for banning a party.”
In September, voters ejected the National Democratic Party (NPD) from the legislature in the last German state in which it held seats. The party is currently only represented on a local level, which Vosskuhle cites as a reason as to why the party does not have the means to carry out its actions. “In more than five decades that it has existed, the [NDP] has not been able to achieve lasting representation in a state legislature,” Vosskuhle explained. He does not see any “indications that this will change in the future.”
The court’s verdict has sparked great outcry. Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, labeled the ruling as “disappointing” and believes that the ruling “allows the NPD to pursue its destructive, anti-democratic activities and to spread more anti-Semitic and racist hatred.” The Central Council of Jews in Germany called the verdict “a lost opportunity to take action against an inhumane party.” Christoph Heubner, Vice President of the International Auschwitz Committee, called the move a “reality-blind and untimely decision” which is going to send a disastrous signal to the rest of Europe.
The court’s verdict marks the second failed attempt of the German government to ban the NPD, as a similar bid was rejected in 2003.
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