Should the NPD have been banned?

In a ruling handed down on Tuesday, the German Constitutional Court rejected the call by the country's 16 states to have the far-right NPD party banned. The party is too weak to represent a threat to Germany's democratic order, the court found. Some journalists agree with the decision while others remain unconvinced.

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Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

A harmless splinter party

The NPD is too unimportant to justify its being banned, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung writes in support of the court's ruling:

“A major intervention by the state such as banning a party is only justified if it is proportionate to the threat. And this proportionality doesn't exist in the case of the Bundesrat's call for the NPD to be banned, because there is no real danger that this splinter party will be able to realise its anticonstitutional goals. The constitutional judges' assessment is right. The NPD has been losing support for years. It currently has less than 6,000 members. It only has a mandate at the local government level, mainly in eastern Germany. … In other words, the fight against a party's despicable mentality must take place in an arena other than the constitutional stage. And that arena is politics.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Naive democracy unable to defend itself

The court in Karlsruhe has made a mistake in dismissing the NPD as irrelevant, the Süddeutsche Zeitung believes:

“If the NPD reached the kind of percentages the AfD is now reaching the judges would have banned it. For the judges a ban on the grounds of unconstitutionality is a matter of numbers: it's the voting results that count, not the party's desire to abolish our society's basic order and values. All that counts is whether it has a realistic chance of achieving that goal. This reasoning is wrong: a democracy that only moves to defend itself once things get very dangerous is unable to defend itself: it is just naïve. … The NPD could and should have been banned - not despite the fact that it is just a little party and insignificant in elections right now but precisely because of this. … Using the example of the small NPD Karlsruhe could have said: a line has been grossly crossed. That wouldn't have been absurd, it would have been a necessary and exemplary step in these times of aggressive right-wing populism.”