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Germany considers ban on far-right party

German Interior Minister Otto Schily announces the first steps that could lead to a ban of the right-wing party NPD  

BERLIN, Germany -- Interior ministers from Germany's 16 federal states are meeting to discuss a possible ban on the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) following a wave of race-hate attacks.

The NPD, which favours an end to immigration, plans to demonstrate against the move at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate on Friday.

Interior Minister Otto Schily, who has backed a ban on the fringe party, said: "It is a very serious decision. Everyone must assume the responsibility for the decision they take."

 National Democratic Party
Founded in 1964
Membership increased from 3,500 in 1996 to 6,000 in 1998
Led by Udo Voigt since 1996
Based in Berlin
Describes itself as a “socialist” party believing that "national socialism is the highest form of unifying people in a nation."

Police have lined the streets around the Brandenburg Gate, under which the Nazis once marched in torch-lit parades. Today the landmark is covered with scaffolding awaiting repairs.

Any government attempt to ban the NPD would have to win Constitutional Court backing, a process that could take years.

Yet even the first step in that process now looks less likely as some members of the conservative opposition Christian Democrats have said they need more time to study the matter.

Some critics say the discussion of a ban gives the NPD free publicity, and even if it happens, it may have little impact if members gather under the banner of a new party.

The NPD has vowed to fight any ban in the courts.

Germany's domestic intelligence office says the NPD opposes and actively seeks to undermine the country's democratic and legal foundations.

The NPD's ideas display "close affinity" with Nazi ideology and can be characterised as "aggressive and racist hatred of foreigners," according to the office's 1999 national security report.

The document further states that the NPD is anti-Semitic, plays down Nazi crimes and denies the Holocaust ever happened.

It says the party's main aim is to "abolish Germany's democratic institutions and to replace them with a new political system."

In order to achieve this, the party is using polemic and defamatory tactics in its sustained attacks on democratic institutions and their representatives, the intelligence body says.

While the NPD has not been a political force at national level, the party does hold some seats in local councils, including the city parliament of Frankfurt.

Reuters contributed to this report.

German police arrest 120 anti-fascists
September 16, 2000
Calls for ban on far-right party grow louder
August 12, 2000

National Democratic Party

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