7th Jun 2023

Frattini backs calls to outlaw German far-right party

EU justice commissioner Franco Frattini has said he backs the idea of a ban on Germany's far-right NPD party, entering into a domestic debate on the issue sparked by recent racist attacks in the country.

Mr Frattini told tabloid Bild am Sonntag on Sunday (26 August) that "if on one day it would come to a ban of the NPD, I would clearly welcome this."

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  • Supporters of the NPD, including many skinheads, during a march in Berlin, 2005 (Photo: Steffen Sebert 2005)

The NPD (National Democratic Party) is a nationalist anti-immigrant group which on its website openly praises Adolf Hitler's former deputy Rudolf Hess and which has become associated with neonazi and skinhead groupings.

According to Mr Frattini, five EU states stand out as facing major problems with right wing extremism. "Germany is one of them, but things do not look much better in France, Belgium, Denmark and unfortunately also in my home country Italy," he indicated.

"In the mentioned countries in particular, we have to improve in our fight against racism and xenophobia – in terms of prevention as well as reaction," he added.

German media report Mr Frattini's comments in the context of an ongoing domestic debate on how to counter the NPD. The party has little popular support at national level, but it has been scoring up to 9 percent in regional elections in the former communist East Germany over the past few years.

The leader of Germany's social democrats, Kurt Beck, last week called for a ban on the NPD following attacks on eight Indians by a mob in the East German village of Muegeln.

Other social democrats backed the call to outlaw the NPD, with the interior senator of the city of Berlin Ehrhart Koerting saying the current legality of the party makes the group stronger and "leads to incidents such as in Muegeln."

But chancellor Angela Merkel, a conservative, reacted with scepticism to the idea of an NPD ban, referring to the failure of earlier attempts to outlaw the group.

The German Constitutional Court in 2003 poured cold water over the previous German government's plans to outlaw the NPD, declaring the move illegal under the German constitution. Ms Merkel declared last week that this was an "unpleasant experience" which should "absolutely not" be repeated.

When Germany held the EU presidency in the first half of this year, it managed to get member states to agree to legislation making incitement to racism and xenophobia a crime across the 27-nation bloc, setting a jail sentence of at least one to three years.


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