Germany's top court rejects bid to ban far-right NPD

Lamenting the decision, World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said the verdict "allows the NPD to pursue its destructive, anti-democratic activities and to spread more anti-Semitic and racist hatred".

Tuesday's ruling marks the second failed attempt by the German parliament's upper house to ban the NPD; it first applied for the ban at the end of 2013.

The Constitutional Court found that although the NPD was hostile to democracy, the party lacked the ability to undermine or abolish democracy in Germany.

The German court said that while the NPD's views violate the Constitution, the group does not have the means to reach its goals of establishing an ethnically defined authoritarian government system. Under German law there must be hard proof that a party puts democracy at risk for it to be banned.

While the NPD's popularity has been waning recently, the far-right populist party, Alternative for Germany, or AfD, has been growing in influence amid a wider resurgence of right-wing parties across Europe in the midst of an immigration crisis and terrorist attacks.

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The NPD has never won enough support to win seats in the federal parliament and in September lost its last seat in a regional assembly.

Despite these concerns, many groups condemned Tuesday's ruling. It is extremely hard to ban a party in Germany, due to post-Nazi era laws created to safeguard free speech.

The judges of the German Constitutional Court, from left, Peter Mueller, presiding judge Andreas Vosskuhle, Peter M. Huber, Sibylle Kessal-Wulf and Ulrich Maidowski, from left, announce that they rejected bid of banning the far-right NPD party in Karlsruhe, southern Germany, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. The New York Times noted that only two political parties have been banned in Germany since the fall of the Third Reich and the Allied victory in World War II: the Socialist Reich Party of Germany (1952) and the German Communist Party (1956). Several senior NPD figures have been convicted of Holocaust denial or incitement but the party denies any involvement in violence.

Germany's 16 federal states started exploring a legal ban after the chance discovery of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) in 2011, which was blamed for killing nine immigrants and a police woman between 2000 and 2007.

In 2003, the court rejected a similar attempt due to the high number of state informants who had infiltrated the party.

  • Adam Floyd