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Germany

Experts Doubt Success of Far-Right Alliance

A combined far-right party made up of the National Democratic Party (NPD) and the German People's Union (DVU) would stand little chance of success at the 2006 general election, say political experts.

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Two far-right parties, one poster come elections in 2006?

Germany's most prominent far-right parties, the German People's Union (DVU) and the National Party (NPD), have announced plans to combine forces for an assault on the Bundestag in the general election in 2006.

Germany's neighbors are fearful of the rise of right-wing extremism in light of the country's Nazi past. But political experts give the unholy alliance little chance of gaining enough votes to enter the German parliament: A party has to get at least 5 percent of votes in order to get seats in the Bundestag.

The whole of Europe looked on in dismay as the far-right parties enjoyed relative successes in Germany's recent state elections. The NPD garnered enough support to enter the state parliament in Saxony while the DVU did the same in Brandenburg.

The Spanish newspaper El Pais called the results a "dangerous radicalization" of German politics while Il Messagero in Italy deplored the rise of the ultra-right and lamented its popularity within a segment of the German population.

Germany's neighbors were not alone in airing concern. Bavarian Interior Minister Günther Beckstein warned on Tuesday of the rise of a "right popular front." The polling institute Forsa further increased the fear by predicting that the combined right-wing party could get between 10 and 15 percent of the vote in a general election -- more than enough to sit in the Bundestag.

All talk, no action?

Oskar Niedermayer, a professor of political sciences at Berlin's Free University, has been watching developments concerning the far-right with interest.

"There have been attempts at collaborations for many years," Niedermayer told DW-WORLD. "Before the last European elections, the NPD attempted it again. But the Republicans and the DVU did not react."

Even now, he said, there has only been a declaration of intent: "Still nothing is final."

Udo Voigt, NPD und Gerhard Frey, DVU

NPD leader Udo Voigt and DVU leader Gerhard Frey

Should the NPD and DVU cooperate, however, this would really "be something qualitatively new," Niedermayer said. Nevertheless, he does not believe the right wing alliance would succeed in getting into the Bundestag.

Lack of cohesion

Oscar Gabriel, a political scientist from the University of Stuttgart, said he believes the conditions are not right for any right wing alliance to succeed.

"There is no party program," Gabriel said. "There are no persuasive, guiding personalities. And there is no exhaustive organization."

Niedermayer added that both right-wing parties would have too little money to fund a full-scale nationwide campaign.

"Besides, they have little media support in contrast (to similar parties in) other European countries," he said.

Ideological differences

NPD-Demonstration

Ideological differences also remain between the two prospective partners and could make such an alliance difficult: The DVU would find it hard to assimilate the more radical aspects of the NPD and an approach to the Republicans would also prove problematic "because they try to distance themselves from the far-right," Niedermayer said.

Despite the barriers to an alliance, Oscar Gabriel said he still believes right-wing extremism is a problem, above all in the east of Germany. But he added that he is doubtful "that the campaign there is openly against democracy."

Caught up in the glow of success?

Landtagswahl 2004 in Sachsen: Holger Apfel, NPD feiert

Holger Apfel celebrates with his fellow party members as the NPD triumphs in Saxony.

Anetta Kahane, the chairperson of the Amadeu Antonio Association, a group that promotes projects against right, said she believes that any alliance will be a ramshackle one.

"This has come into being in the immediate elation of the election success," Kahane said. "But there is so much potential conflict in it. And it is also doubtful whether the collaboration would be recognized by the courts. Should they create it, however, this would be menacing."

None of the experts ruled out the right-wing parties entering the Bundestag in the future but a success in the 2006 election for a combined alliance remains unlikely. Gabriel said he believes that any gains will be minimal.

"If one adds 0.5 and the other 0.7 percent, that's still only 1.2 percent," he said. "It will still not be enough for both together."

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