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Merkel cabinet to decide in March on case against far-right NPD

Germany‘s interior minister said Tuesday that the federal government would not formally decide until late March whether to join a legal battle to ban a far-right, anti-immigrant party.

The minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, had told conservative party colleagues late Monday that Angela Merkel‘s government would join a case seeking to outlaw the National Democratic Party (NPD).

However, on Tuesday, after criticism from coalition partners, he stressed that the cabinet had not yet reached a formal decision.

The NPD, whose party motto is "Work, Family, Fatherland," is a far-right group that is openly hostile to foreigners and seen as close to neo-Nazi groups.

But seeking a formal ban is controversial because the legal hurdles to prohibit any party are high, and a legal defeat for the government could spell a publicity triumph for the NPD.

In order for its case to succeed, the claimants must prove to the nation‘s highest court that the NPD is unconstitutional, a threat to democracy, and "combative-aggressive" in its nature.

An attempt a decade ago to ban the NPD failed because the constitutional court ruled that the presence of undercover informants within top party ranks sullied the evidence against the group.

Last December, the German upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, launched another attempt to ban the party, based on a joint decision of a group of state governments.

The pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), the junior coalition partners of Merkel‘s conservative Christian Democrats, have voiced scepticism on whether a case against the NPD will succeed.

Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger of the FDP criticized the interior minister for what she considered his premature comments to Christian Social Union lawmakers.

"Another failure of an NPD ban petition would be a disaster for democracy and a victory for the right-wing extremists," she said.

Credit: Europe Online

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