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Representatives from all 16 of Germany’s states have voted to cut state funding for the country’s longest-established neo-Nazi group.
The states – represented in Germany’s upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat – asked Germany’s highest court to ban funding for the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD).
“Ours is a democracy based on debate, but it must also be defended,” said Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, premier of the state of Saarland, who led the initiative. 
“Today we bring a motion by all the [German] states that serves to prevent the NPD from getting funds from the state, which it is actively working against.”
Scarred by memories of the collapse of democracy in the 1930s amid the rise of Adolf Hitler’s Nazis, Germany has some of the strictest laws on political extremism in the world, with rules allowing the banning of anti-democratic parties.
The new initiative comes after two unsuccessful attempts to ban the NPD altogether, the most recent of which came last January. 
Then, the court agreed that the NPD is in favour of an authoritarian state, stating that “their political concept disregards human dignity and is incompatible with the principle of democracy”.
Nevertheless, the judges rejected the request to ban the party. They concluded that while the its aims were unconstitutional, its limited political successes mean it posed little threat. 
The court did note that limiting access to funding could be a method of weakening the NPD and other anti-constitutional parties.
In June 2017 Germany’s “basic law” was changed, allowing a legal process that prevents extremist parties from receiving government funds.
Following the vote, this case will now be sent to the constitutional court and if that rules in favour, the NPD would have its state funding cut off for six years.
German political parties receive public funding based on the number of votes they receive in regional, national and European elections.
The NPD’s lone member of the European Parliament made the party eligible for over €1m (£881,000) of public funding in 2016.  
However the party, which sees immigration as a danger to the “survival of the German people in its Central European Lebensraum”, is no longer in any regional parliament.
Germany’s security services have repeatedly attempted to ban the party as unconstitutional but have always been thwarted by courts, who on one occasion found that the party was so riddled with undercover agents that it was impossible to tell what was a genuine party decision and what was not. 
While the NFD is still seen as the country’s most extreme active far-right party, it lost a significant portion of its voters to the nationalist Alternative for Germany in the recent national election.
In that election, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) became the first far-right party to enter parliament in decades.

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