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Germany's highest court to rule on nationalist NPD party ban

The far-right NPD has long been in law enforcement's crosshairs for its extreme ideology. An upcoming ruling may definitively decide the party's legality.

Germany's Constitutional Court announced on Thursday that its long-awaited decision on banning the far-right National Party of Germany (NPD) would come on January 17. The suit was brought about by the upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, which represents the regional governments on the federal level.

The nationalist NPD was first founded in 1964 from a collection of small right-wing splinter groups that emerged from the ashes of World War II. They promote the belief that natural law makes different people inherently unequal.

Despite fervent and widespread opposition to the ideology, and relatively small numbers (a 2014 estimate puts membership at around 5,000 in a country of 82 million), rival parties have struggled to quash the NPD. Although authorities in Germany have charged them over flouting constitutional bans on Nazi symbols and propaganda many times, past attempts for a conviction have failed in court.

In 2003, a major investigation into the party's constitutionality crumbled after it transpired that too many key players in the party were actually undercover police officers or paid informants. The problem was compounded by allegations that some of the NPD's unconstitutional activities had been instigated by those in the employ of security services.

The NPD has argued that it has been unduly stigmatized and has broken no laws. Authorities appeared to have little sympathy for this argument, however, as the European Court of Human Rights ruled against the NPD last week. The nationalists had claimed their members were being discriminated against because of their views.

es/msh (dpa, epd)

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