Sharp defeat for the federal states: Their attempt to ban the far-right NPD from the party landscape and to have it banned has failed. On Tuesday, the Federal Constitutional Court rejected the Bundesrat's application for a ban – because of the party's lack of assertiveness.
In their nearly 300-page ruling, the judges in Karlsruhe state that the NPD is anti-establishment and similar in nature to National Socialism. "However, there is currently a lack of concrete indications of weight that make it seem possible that their actions will lead to success," said court president Andreas Vobkuhle at the announcement of the verdict in Karlsruhe.
Hurdles for a party ban are high
"One or the other may find the result of the proceedings irritating," the chairman of the Second Senate went on to say. A party ban, however, is "not an ethos or ideology ban". Vobkuhle explicitly pointed to "other response options" – such as withdrawing state funding for political parties. This would not have to decide however the Verfangsgericht, but the Verfangsandernden legislator.
If the NPD strengthens in the future, it is also up to the politicians to apply again for a party ban. For such proceedings, the judges developed contemporary standards in their comprehensive judgment. For the first time in more than six decades, they had to decide on a party ban again.
Critics of a new ban attempt had warned from the outset of the great risks involved. The legal hurdles for banning a party are high, and the NPD has recently lost political significance.
First trial failed because of informers
In September 2016, the right-wing extremists had to give up their last state parliament seats nationwide in the election in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Since then, the NPD has only been represented at the municipal level and with one deputy in the European Parliament.
It is already the second time that the attempt to take action against the NPD in Karlsruhe ends in failure. A first procedure had burst 2003, because it came to light that the party was interspersed up to the top with informers of the Verfangsschutzes. The German government and Bundestag, which had helped to request the ban at the time, therefore did not join the Bundesrat this time around.
Saxony is NPD stronghold
Only the Federal Constitutional Court has the power to ie a party ban. It has only happened twice before, and that was more than 60 years ago. In 1952, the Socialist Reich Party (SRP) was banned, and in 1956, the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) was banned.
Founded in 1964, the NPD has about 5200 members nationwide. Their strongholds are in eastern Germany, particularly Saxony.