German court rejects far right’s bid to beat ban

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Germany’s constitutional court has rejected an attempt by the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) to win greater legal protection by being ­declared to be in conformity with the constitution.

The NPD, branded “racist, anti-Semitic and revisionist” by Germany’s domestic intelligence service, had hoped the court would rule that it is “loyal to the constitution” and thus ­undermine a bid by MPs to have it banned.

Explaining its rejection of the NPD suit, the court yesterday said a political party could not ask for a ruling on its own ­constitutionality.

The court also rejected the NPD’s complaints against the German parliament and government that they were damaging its democratic rights with their talk of banning the party.

The upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, is pressing ahead with a legal bid to ban the NPD but chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right government is split about whether to back the initiative.

Banning political parties is especially sensitive in Germany, still haunted by memories of Nazi and Communist regimes which silenced dissent.

Opponents of the drive to ban the NPD say it would give the party free publicity. They also fear a ban would merely push it underground and make it more difficult to monitor.

An attempt to ban the NPD in 2003 collapsed and Mrs Merkel has said she wants to be sure any new case is watertight.