National Democratic Party of Germany | Wikipedia audio article

National Democratic Party of Germany | Wikipedia audio article


The National Democratic Party of Germany (German:
Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands, NPD) is a far-right and ultranationalist political
party in Germany. The party was founded in 1964 as successor
to the German Reich Party (German: Deutsche Reichspartei, DRP). Party statements also self-identify the party
as Germany’s “only significant patriotic force”. On 1 January 2011, the nationalist German
People’s Union (German: Deutsche Volksunion) merged with the NPD and the party name of
the National Democratic Party of Germany was extended by the addition of “The People’s
Union”.The party is usually described as a neo-Nazi organization, and has been referred
to as “the most significant neo-Nazi party to emerge after 1945”. The German Federal Agency for Civic Education,
or BPB, has criticized the NPD for working with members of organizations which were later
found unconstitutional by the federal courts and disbanded, while the Federal Office for
the Protection of the Constitution (German: Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz), Germany’s
domestic security agency, classifies the NPD as a “threat to the constitutional order”
because of its platform and philosophy, and it is under their observation. An effort to outlaw the party failed in 2003,
because the government had a large number of informers and agents in the party, some
in high position, who had written part of the material used against them.[68]Since its
founding in 1964, the NPD has never managed to win enough votes on the federal level to
cross Germany’s 5% minimum threshold for representation in the Bundestag; it has succeeded in crossing
the 5% threshold and gaining representation in state parliaments 11 times, including one-convocation
entry to 7 West German state parliaments between November 1966 and April 1968 and two-convocation
electoral success in two East German states of Saxony and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern between
2004 and 2011. Since 2016, the NPD is again not represented
in state parliaments. Udo Voigt led the NPD from 1996 to 2011. He was succeeded by Holger Apfel, who in turn
was replaced by Udo Pastörs in December 2013. In November 2014, Pastörs was ousted and
Frank Franz became the party’s leader. Voigt was elected the party’s first Member
of the European Parliament in 2014.==Platform and philosophy==The NPD also endorses certain beliefs about
human nature. NPD leader Udo Voigt states that the philosophy
of the NPD differs from both communism and social liberalism in that it acknowledges
people as unequal products of their societies and environments, largely governed by what
is called natural law. The NPD calls itself a party of “grandparents
and grandchildren” because the 1960s generation in Germany, known for the leftist student
movement, strongly opposes the NPD’s policies. The NPD’s economic program promotes social
security for Germans and control against plutocracy. They discredit and reject the “liberal-capitalist
system”.The NPD argues that NATO fails to represent the interests and needs of European
people. The party considers the European Union to
be little more than a reorganisation of a Soviet-style government of Europe along financial
lines. Although highly critical of the EU, as long
as Germany remains a part of it, the NPD opposes Turkey’s incorporation into the organisation. Voigt envisions future collaboration and continued
friendly relations with other nationalists and European national parties. The NPD’s platform asserts that Germany is
larger than the present-day Federal Republic, and calls for a return of German territory
lost after World War II, a foreign policy position abandoned by the German government
in 1990. At one point, a map of Germany was shown on
the party website omitting the border that divides Germany from Austria. The NPD also failed to colour in the Oder–Neisse
line, the border which established the limits of federal Germany to the east and was agreed
upon with Poland in 1990.In the early 21st century, long-standing efforts to ban the
party were renewed. The 2005 report of the Federal Office for
the Protection of the Constitution contains the following description: The party continues to pursue a “people’s
front” of the nationals [consisting of] the NPD, DVU, and forces not attached to any party,
which is supposed to develop into a base for an encompassing ‘German people’s movement’. The aggressive agitation of the NPD unabashedly
aims towards the abolition of parliamentary democracy and the democratic constitutional
state, although the use of violence is currently still officially rejected for tactical reasons. Statements of the NPD document an essential
affinity with National Socialism; its agitation is racist, antisemitic, homophobic, revisionist,
and intends to disparage the democratic and lawful order of the constitution.==International connections==Voigt has held meetings with various proponents
of white nationalism, including David Duke, a US white nationalist, author, politician,
and activist. Between 1989 and 1992, the International Third
Position began to ally itself with the NPD in Germany and Forza Nuova in Italy.They have
been in contact with Youth Defence, the Irish anti-abortion group, since 1996. Justin Barrett, former leader of Youth Defence
and current President of the National Party of Ireland, has spoken at their events in
Passau in 2000.==History=====
Early history===In the 1950s, despite the overall failure
of de-Nazification, early right-wing extremist parties in West Germany failed to attract
voters away from the moderate government that had presided over Germany’s recovery. In November 1964, however, right-wing splinter
groups united to form the NDP. One of the four founding members was Adolf
von Thadden (1921 – 1996), alleged to have been an MI6 agent. Thadden had a British grandmother and was
NPD chairman from 1967 to 1971. Owing to von Thadden’s effective leadership
the NPD achieved success in the late 1960s, winning local government seats across West
Germany. In 1966 and 1967, fuelled by West German discontent
with a lagging economy and with the leadership of Chancellor Ludwig Erhard, the NPD won 15
seats in Bavaria, 10 in lower Saxony, 8 in Hesse, and several other seats. However, the NPD did not then and has never
since received the minimum 5% of votes in federal elections that allow a party to send
delegates to the German Parliament. The NPD came closest to that goal in the 1969
election, when it received 4.3 per cent of the vote. An economic downturn, frustrations with the
emerging leftist youth counter-culture and the emergence of a coalition government between
the center-right Christian Democratic Party (CDU), the Christian Social Union (the CDU’s
present-day sister party), and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) helped to pave
the way for those NPD gains. The coalition government had created a vacuum
in the traditional political right wing, which the NPD tried to fill. Additionally, the party benefited from hostility
to the growing immigrant population and fears that the government would repudiate claims
to the “lost territories” (pre-World War II German territory east of the Oder-Neisse River.) The historian Walter Laqueur has argued that
the NPD in the 1960s cannot be classified as a neo-Nazi party.Yet, when the coalition
fell apart, around 75 per cent of those who had voted for the NPD drifted back to the
center-right. During the 1970s, the NPD went into decline,
suffering from an internal split over failing to get into the German Parliament. The issue of immigration spurred a small rebound
in popular interest from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, but the party only saw limited
success in various local elections.===Recent history=======
Electoral history====Since its founding in 1964, the NPD has only
won seats in regional assemblies. Its successes in state parliaments can be
grouped into two periods: the late 1960s (1966 in Hesse; 1967 in Bremen, Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate,
and Schleswig-Holstein; and 1968 in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria), and former East Germany since
reunification (2006 and 2011 in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, 2004 and 2009 in Saxony).In the 2004 state
election in Saxony, the NPD won 9.2% of the overall vote. After the 2009 state election in Saxony, the
NPD sent eight representatives to the Saxony state parliament, having lost four representatives
since the 2004 election. The NPD lost their representation in Saxony
at the 2014 state election. They also lost all representation in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
at the 2016 state election. The NPD maintained a non-competition agreement
with the German People’s Union (DVU) between 2004 and 2009. The third white nationalist-oriented party,
the Republicans (REP), has so far refused to join this agreement. However, Kerstin Lorenz, a local representative
of the Republicans in Saxony, sabotaged her party’s registration to help the NPD in the
Saxony election.In the 2005 federal elections, the NPD received 1.6 per cent of the vote
nationally. It garnered the highest per cent of votes
in the states of Saxony (4.9 per cent), Thuringia (3.7 per cent), Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (3.5
per cent) and Brandenburg (3.2 per cent). In most other states, the party won around
1 percent of the total votes cast. In the 2006 Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state election,
the NPD received 7.3% of the vote and thus achieved state representation there, as well.The
NPD had 5,300 registered party members in 2004. Over the course of 2006, the NPD processed
roughly 2,000 party applications to push the membership total over 7,200. In 2008, the trend of a growing number of
members has been reversed and NPD’s membership is estimated at about 7,000.In the 2014 European
elections, Udo Voigt was elected as the party’s first Member of the European Parliament.====2001–2003 banning attempt====
In 2001, the federal government, the Bundestag, and the Bundesrat jointly attempted to have
the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany ban the NPD. The court, the highest court in Germany, has
the exclusive power to ban parties if they are found to be “anti-constitutional” through
the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany. However, the petition was rejected in 2003
after it was discovered that a number of the NPD’s inner circle, including as many as 30
of its top 200 leaders were undercover agents or informants of the German secret services,
like the federal Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz. They include a former deputy chairman of the
party and author of an anti-Semitic tract that formed a central part of the government’s
case. Since the secret services were unwilling to
fully disclose their agents’ identities and activities, the court found it impossible
to decide which moves by the party were based on genuine party decisions and which were
controlled by the secret services in an attempt to further the ban. The court determined that so many of the party’s
actions were influenced by the government that the resulting “lack of clarity” made
it impossible to defend a ban. “The presence of the state at the leadership
level makes influence on its aims and activities unavoidable,” it concluded.Horst Mahler (NPD),
a former member of the far left terrorist organisation Red Army Faction, defended the
NPD before the court. In May 2009, several state politicians published
an extensive document which they claim proves the NPD’s opposition to the constitution without
relying on information supplied by undercover agents. This move was intended to lead up to a second
attempt to have the NPD banned.====Merger with DVU====
At the 2010 NPD party conference at Bamberg it was announced that the party would ask
its members to approve a merger with the German People’s Union (DVU). After the merger on 1 January 2011, the combined
party briefly used the name NPD – Die Volksunion (NPD – The People’s Union). Between 2004 and 2009 the two parties had
agreed not to compete against each other in elections. However, on 27 January 2011, Munich’s Landgericht
(regional court) in a preliminary injunction declared the merger null and void.===World War II and Holocaust commemoration
controversies===On 21 January 2005, during a moment of silence
in the Saxon state assembly in Dresden to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation
of the Nazi Auschwitz extermination camp, twelve members of the NPD walked out in protest. The NPD stated that they were upset that a
moment of silence was being held for those who died in the Auschwitz camp and that none
was being given for those who died during the bombing of Dresden in World War II, with
the anniversary of both events falling relatively close to each other. Holger Apfel, leader of the NPD in Saxony
and deputy leader of the party nationwide, made a speech in the Saxon State Parliament
in which he called the Allied forces of the United States and the United Kingdom “mass
murderers” because of their role in the bombing. His colleague, Jürgen Gansel went on to describe
the bombing itself as a “holocaust of bombs”. Voigt voiced his support and reiterated the
statement, which some controversially claimed was a violation of the German law which forbids
Holocaust denial. However, after judicial review, it was decided
that Udo Voigt’s description of the 1945 RAF bombing of Dresden as a holocaust was an exercise
of free speech and “defamation of the dead” was not the purpose of his statement.In 2009,
the NPD joined the Junge Landsmannschaft Ostdeutschland in a demonstration on the anniversary of the
Bombing of Dresden in World War II. Roughly 6,000 people came to participate in
the event.===Activism and controversy===
The NPD’s strategy has been to create “national free-zones” and circumvent its marginal electoral
status by concentrating on regions where support is strongest. In March 2006, musician Konstantin Wecker
tried to set up an in-school anti-fascist concert in Halberstadt, Saxony-Anhalt two
weeks before the state elections. The NPD argued that because of politics, the
date and the in-school venue, the concert “was an unacceptable form of political campaigning.” In protest, the NPD vowed to buy the tickets
and turn up en masse at Wecker’s show, which led local authorities to cancel the event. The Social Democrats and the Greens were outraged
by the decision, which the Central Council of Jews in Germany criticized as “politically
bankrupt.” The NPD was going to sponsor a march through
Leipzig on 21 June 2006, as the 2006 World Cup was going on. The party wanted to show its support for the
Iranian national football team, which was playing in Leipzig, and Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. However, the NPD decided against the demonstration;
only a counter-demonstration took place that day, in support of Israel. During the World Cup, the party’s web site
stated that due to the prevalence of people of non-German descent on the German national
football team, the team “was not really German”. Later in 2006, the party designed leaflets,
which said “White – not just the color of a jersey! For a true National team!” This leaflet was never mass-distributed, but
copies were confiscated during a raid on the NPD’s headquarters, when authorities had been
hoping to find material linking the party to Nazism. Patrick Owomoyela was later informed about
the poster after it was noted that the image depicted a footballer wearing a white jersey
with Owomoyela’s number on it. Owomoyela, of Nigerian descent, had played
for the German national team in the years before the World Cup and proceeded to file
a lawsuit against the party. The party was able to delay the procedures
but in April 2009 three party officials (Udo Voigt, Frank Schwerdt and Klaus Bieler) were
sentenced for Volksverhetzung (Voigt and Bieler to 7 months on probation, Schwerdt to 10 months
on probation).In November 2008, shortly after the 2008 United States Presidential Election,
the NPD published a document entitled “Africa conquers the White House” which stated that
the election of Barack Obama as the first African-American President of the United States
was the result of “the American alliance of Jews and Negroes” and that Obama aimed to
destroy the United States’ “white identity.” The NPD claimed, “A non-white America is a
declaration of war on all people who believe an organically grown social order based on
language and culture, history and heritage to be the essence of humanity” and “Barack
Obama hides this declaration of war behind his pushy sunshine smile.” The NPD also stated that the extensive support
for Obama in Germany “resembles an African tropical disease.”In September 2009, another
incident involving the NPD and a football player of the German national team was reported. In a television show of a regional channel,
NPD spokesman Beier called midfielder Mesut Özil a “Plaste-Deutscher” (“Plastic German”
or “ID Card German”), meaning someone who is not born German, but becomes German by
naturalisation, particularly for certain benefits. The German Football Association announced
that they would immediately file a lawsuit against the NPD and their spokesman, if requested
by Özil.During the Gaza War in 2009, the NPD planned a “Holocaust vigil” for Gaza in
support of the Palestinians. Charlotte Knobloch, the head of the Central
Council of Jews in Germany, said “joint hatred of everything Jewish is unifying neo-Nazis
and Islamists.” Knobloch claimed German-Palestinian protestors
“unashamedly admitted” that they would vote for the NPD during the next election.In April
2009, the party was fined 2.5 million Euro for filing incorrect financial statements,
resulting, according to Deutsche Welle, in “serious financial trouble” for its administration.On
23 September 2009, four days before the federal elections, German police raided the Berlin
headquarters of the NPD to investigate claims that letters sent from the NPD to politicians
from immigrant backgrounds incited racial hatred. The NPD leader in Berlin defended the letters
saying that “As part of a democracy, we’re entitled to say if something doesn’t suit
us in this country.”====2011 banning attempt====
In 2011, authorities were reportedly trying to link the party, and specifically 30-year-old
national organization director Patrick Wieschke, to the so-called “Zwickau terrorist cell”. This raised the possibility of another effort
to outlaw the party. The cell had been implicated in a string of
murders and the November robbery of a savings bank in Eisenach. Authorities were also pursuing a gun case
against Ralf Wohlleben, former deputy chairman of the party’s branch in Thuringia, though
the latter case was reportedly unlikely to translate into a national-level challenge
to the party’s legal standing. The likelihood of success of renewed banning
attempts has been questioned, given the Office for the Protection of the Constitution has
over 130 informants in the party, some in high positions, raising the question of whether
the party is effectively controlled by the government.====2012 Thor Steinar clothing controversy
====In June 2012, several NPD members of Saxony’s
parliament attended the parliament’s sittings wearing clothing from Thor Steinar, a clothing
brand that is popular amongst neo-Nazis; the legislature responded by saying that such
provocative clothing was not permitted to be worn in the parliament and demanded that
the NPD members remove and replace their attire; the NPD members refused, resulting in the
members being expelled from the parliament and banned from attending the next three parliamentary
sittings. The NPD members denied accusations that they
wore the shirts as a deliberate provocation.====2012 banning attempt====
German officials tried to outlaw the party again in December 2012, with the interior
ministers of all 16 states recommending a ban. The Federal Constitutional Court is yet to
vote on the recommendation. In March 2013 the Merkel government said it
would not try to ban the NPD.====2016 banning attempt====
German officials again tried to outlaw the NPD by submitting a request to the Federal
Constitutional Court in 2016. On January 17, 2017, the second senate of
the Federal Constitutional Court rejected the attempt to outlaw the party. The reasoning behind the decision was that
the NPD’s political significance is virtually nonexistent at the state and federal levels
and that banning the party would not change the mindset of its members, who would either
simply form a new movement under a different name or flock over to the Alternative for
Germany (AfD) Party – another far-right wing political party in the country which is more
popular than NPD. However, the Court also openly acknowledged
that NPD is unconstitutional based upon its manifesto and ideology, citing “links to neo-Nazis”
and that “anti-semitism was a structural element of the party ideology.” The Court also indirectly suggested that such
a party should not be receiving state grants to further its cause. This prompted calls for the proposal of a
constitutional amendment which would forbid anti-constitutional parties’ financing to
the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany. The proposal was criticized by the interior
policy spokesman of Die Linke, who claimed that such a constitutional amendment could
stand to serve as a politically dubious way to remove a political opponent. Law Professor Hans Herbert von Arnim defended
the rights of small parties, including the NPD.==Presidents of the NPD==
Friedrich Thielen 1964–1967 Adolf von Thadden 1967–1971
Martin Mussgnug 1971–1990 Günter Deckert 1991–1996
Udo Voigt 1996–2011 Holger Apfel 2011–2013
Udo Pastörs 2013–2014 Frank Franz 2014–present==Election results and current representation
=====
Federal Parliament (Bundestag)======European Parliament=====
Literature==Ackermann, Robert: Warum die NPD keinen Erfolg
haben kann – Organisation, Programm und Kommunikation einer rechtsextremen Partei. Budrich, Opladen 2012, ISBN 978-3-86388-012-5. Brandstetter, Marc: Die „neue“ NPD: Zwischen
Systemfeindschaft und bürgerlicher Fassade. Parteienmonitor Aktuell der Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. Bonn 2012 (online)
Brandstetter, Marc: Die NPD unter Udo Voigt. Organisation. Ideologie. Strategie (=Extremismus und Demokratie. Bd. 25). Nomos Verlag, Baden-Baden 2013, ISBN 978-3-383-29708-3. Prasse, Jan-Ole: Der kurze Höhenflug der
NPD. Rechtsextreme Wahlerfolge in den 1960er Jahren. Tectum-Verlag, Marburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-8288-2282-5. Philippsberg, Robert: Die Strategie der NPD:
Regionale Umsetzung in Ost- und Westdeutschland. Baden-Baden 2009. apabiz e. V.: Die NPD – Eine Handreichung zu Programm,
Struktur, Personal und Hintergründen. Zweite, aktualisierte Auflage. 2008. (online) (PDF; 671 kB)==See also==
Far-right politics in Germany German nationalism
Irredentism Politics of Germany
List of political parties in Germany Frank Rennicke
Frank Franz List of National Democratic Party of Germany
politicians==
Notes====
External links==Party Platform of the NPD (PDF) (in German)
History of the National Democratic Party NPD Russia
BBC news: Poll boost for German far right

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