Germany should denounce extremism but not ban the far-right NPD, said parliamentarian Hans-Peter Uhl. On Thursday, April 17, the state interior ministers blocked a repeat bid to make the controversial party illegal.
The first effort to ban the NPD, led by former Interior Minister Otto Schily, failed in 2003. The Constitutional Court rejected the case because the implicating evidence had been influenced by informants to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Nothing has changed since then.
Once again, the state interior ministers have agreed not to pursue another request to ban the NPD. Ultimately, they would have to guarantee that the informants had not influenced any of the material collected to prove that the party is unconstitutional. To do this, they would have to remove all of the informants and obtain new evidence over a longer period of time.
This, however, would create a security risk, since possible crimes could be planned, which the state wouldn't know about without the informants in place.
The SPD, which has tried to score points on the domestic policy field in the past few weeks with an NPD ban, is now empty-handed.
The CDU and CSU won't tolerate accusations of being lenient toward right-wing extremism. On the contrary, we won't be outdone in the fight against extremist ideas. The basic democratic rule in the fight against unconstitutional ideologies is political debate, in order to win the heads and hearts of the people.
It's a mistake to believe that deleting a party name would also delete the extremist ideas it represents. The NPD offers primitive, mono-causal solutions and misdirected statements. These cannot be silently tolerated in civil society and in politics, but should be rejected and ostracized. This path may be tedious, but there is no alternative.
It's also important that politics and the media don't abet political disenchantment but respond to problematic developments in a responsible way before extremist Pied Pipers get involved.
For this reason, the CDU makes an effort to offer people on the right of the political spectrum more moderate orientation, in order to integrate them in a way that corresponds to the constitutional order. Unapologetically separating oneself from extremist ideas is adherent to this. We, therefore, condemn the often glib fight "against the right" when it indiscriminately excludes legitimate concerns in the democratic opinion spectrum and lumps them together with extremist content.
Any suggestions to cut funding to the NPD should be examined and, if possible, successfully carried out. But there are legal risks involved here as well. The principle of tiered equality for all parties that aren't banned tightly restricts special treatment.
Public debate should not lead to unnecessary extra attention for the NPD. When the group is mentioned, its platform should be denounced in the same breath. The NPD should in no way benefit from this short-sighted party conflict.
Hans-Peter Uhl is the domestic policy speaker for the CDU-CSU faction in the German parliament. (kjb)