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Germany backs off bid to get extreme-right NPD banned


The German government has decided not to attempt to get the far-right NPD party banned by the country’s top court. The decision came due to the refusal of the junior partners in the coalition to back the move.

A recommendation to be presented at a meeting of Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet on Tuesday suggests that her center-right government refrain from launching its own initiative to get the extreme right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) banned by the Federal Constitutional Court.

According to the document obtained by news agencies, the government does not regard a separate request, in addition to one already filed by the country's 16 states, as “necessary.”

This came after the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), announced that they would not support an application by the federal government.

“We can't support an application to ban [the NPD]," FDP chairman Phillip Rösler said.

The FDP is of the opinon that "stupidity cannot be banned," Rösler, who is also the deputy chancellor, added.

The decision was criticized by the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

"Rösler is trvializing the neo-Nazis in an unacceptable manner," Dieter Graumann, the organization's president said.

The opposition Social Democrats (SPD) also criticized the decision.

"We need the solidarity of the democrats against the NPD," said Thomas Oppermann, the parliamentary party leader of the SPD.

The FDP decision could be expected to ruffle feathers among its coalition partners too. Just last month, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich of the Bavaria-based Christian Social Union told reporters that he saw no other option but for the federal government to support the states by making its own request to get the NPD banned.

The general-secretary of Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democrats, Hermann Gröhe, declined to comment in detail on the FDP's position, saying a final decision had not yet been made and that an official announcement would follow Tuesday's cabinet meeting.

Germany's 16 states, which agreed last December to launch a joint bid to get the NPD banned, had hoped the federal government would support its effort with its own request.

The last attempt to ban the party was quashed by the Karlsruhe-based Constitutional Court in 2003.

Nationwide, the NPD polls well below the five-percent hurdle required to guarantee parliamentary representation, though it is strong in some states and municipalities - especially in the former East. The party also targets its campaigns towards those areas where it polls less poorly.

pfd/jr (AFP, Reuters, epd)

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