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Germany

Proposed Ban on Right-Wing NPD Loses Steam

Germany's interior minister said it's "high time" the Social Democrats abandon their push for a ban of the right-wing NPD. The chancellor said right-wing extremism should be "nipped in the bud" but a ban was unlikely.

NPD-supporter with a flag

The NPD hasn't passed the 5 percent quota necessary to win seats in the federal parliament

In the end, the stir caused by the Social Democratic Party's move to illegalize the far-right National Democratic Party only helps the NPD, Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told the newspaper Schleswig-Holstein am Sonntag in its Sunday, April 13, edition.

He said the party is "clearly unconstitutional" but that Germany's Basic Law was very cautious about outlawing political parties.

"The worst thing would be another failed ban proposal," said Schaeuble, who will discuss the matter later this week at a conference with Germany's 16 state interior ministers.

The SPD first attempted to push through an NPD ban in 2003, but Germany's high court threw the case out due to problems with undercover agents operating within the NPD to monitor its activities. One of them reached the top of the hierarchy and is said to have authored an anti-Semitic pamphlet.

The SPD, which is a partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel's governing coalition, hasn't garnered support for the ban from other parties but has nevertheless continued to press for one.

Merkel speaks out against extremism

Files in the NPD case

The first ban proposal was stopped when some party leaders were found to be undercover agents

In a separate interview published Sunday by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Merkel expressed doubts over the success of a second ban effort.

"I'm waiting for the opinion of the interior ministers, whose experts have been very skeptical so far," said the chancellor, who didn't mince words when it came to right-wing extremism in general.

"This party and the entire right-wing extremist movement have to be confronted resolutely," she said. "'Nip it in the bud' is my personal conviction."

Hamburg's state Interior Minister Udo Nagel, who doesn't represent a political party, told the AP news agency that "all the ministers want the NPD to be banned" but that a ban simply wasn't "legally or factually possible." Germany's state interior ministers are set to discuss the matter at their spring conference to be held from April 16-18 in Brandenburg.

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