Thursday

26th Apr 2018

Focus

German neo-Nazis could enter EU parliament after court ruling

  • The Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe says the threshold discriminates against small parties (Photo: Al Fed)

A myriad small German parties, including the neo-Nazi NPD, could enter the European Parliament following a ruling by the Constitutional Court on Wednesday (26 February) to abolish the minimum threshold for the vote.

The verdict, approved with 5 out of the 8 votes in the judging panel, says fringe parties are being discriminated against with the current three-percent threshold.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The Karlsruhe-based court already in 2011 ruled that a five-percent threshold in place for the 2009 EU elections was unconstitutional.

Following that ruling, Germany’s parliament lowered the threshold to three percent, arguing that smaller parties could hamper the work of the European Parliament.

The law was challenged again – this time by a coalition of 19 fringe parties, including the neo-Nazi NPD and the German Pirate Party.

The judges agreed with the plaintiffs.

"One also cannot simply assume that the traditional practice of flexible forming of majorities in Parliament would be significantly complicated by the election of new parliamentarians from smaller parties," the verdict reads.

The judges argue that the two major parties - the centre-right EPP and the Social Democrats - could form a voting alliance, so that small parties will not be able to hamper the workings of the EU legislature.

And since the composition of the European Parliament is divided per country, with Germany filling 96 out of the available 751 seats in the new legislature, a de facto threshold of about one percent exists for a party to actually get an MEP, the judges noted.

The NPD welcomed the verdict and said it would focus all its "strength" on the EU elections campaign.

European Parliament chief Martin Schulz, himself a German politician and lead candidate of the Social Democrats, tweeted that he "respects" the verdict, but "would have wished for something else."

"We must mobilise now and prevent the entry of extremist parties in the EP," he added.

But not all fringe parties are "extremist."

The Pirate Party promotes internet freedom; there is also an animal rights party and a "Grey Panthers" party defending the rights of retired people.

Satirist Martin Sonneborn, head of "The Party" which received 0.6 percent in the general elections last year, says he sees a "pretty good chance" of himself becoming an MEP.

According to the latest Politbarometer published last week, only 27 percent of Germans are interested in the EU elections and 53 percent say they do not have enough information about the European Union.

Merkel's Christian Democratic Union is polling at 40 percent, the Social Democrats at 24 pecent, the Green Party at 12 percent and the leftist Linke at eight.

German Liberals, who last year missed the five-percent threshold and were kicked out of the Bundestag, would get four percent of the vote, while the newcomer anti-euro party Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) is polling at six percent. All other fringe parties summed up together make up six percent of voters' intentions, meaning a maximum of six MEPs.

The court decision makes Germany the 14th EU country out of the 28 member states not to have a minimum threshold for the EU elections.

German eurosceptics on the rise ahead of EU elections

Anti-euro and anti-immigrant sentiment is shaping the EU election campaign in Germany, with a newcomer party that promises an "alternative" to the single currency set to enter the European Parliament.

German neo-Nazi party gears up for EP entry

Germany's neo-nazi party is reckoning on getting its first ever seat in the European Parliament in May and has had "advanced" talks with similar parties in the EU assembly.

EUobserved

When two worlds collide

Two worlds collided at the end of last week. The shrill, uncompromising one of British politics and the technocratic, dry, world of the European Commission.

EUobserved

Schadenfreude and fire-walking in the EP

There was outright glee in the EP on Thursday. It was time to dust off everyone’s favourite German word for pleasure in the misfortune of others.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May
  2. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  5. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  6. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  8. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  9. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  10. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  11. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  12. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip

Latest News

  1. EU tells platforms to sort fake news by October or face new law
  2. Civil society chief: social media can't replace engagement
  3. The reality behind the €7 'Brexit bombshell visa'
  4. Commission wants bigger post-Brexit budget
  5. Whistleblowers could be enforcers of rule of law in Europe
  6. EU shelves Macron idea for 'European Darpa'
  7. Don't play EU 'games' with military HQs
  8. EU had a plan for Jordan - now it's time to make it work