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23 Jan, 2024 19:09

German neo-Nazi party stripped of state funding

The country’s Constitutional Court has accused the neo-Nazi ‘Die Heimat’ party of posing a threat to democracy
German neo-Nazi party stripped of state funding

German far-right party ‘Die Heimat’ has been stripped of its state funding privileges by the country’s highest court, for posing a threat to “the free democratic order.” The party, previously known as the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), is the first political force in the country to face such a restriction.

In its Tuesday ruling, the Karlsruhe-based Constitutional Court said that ‘Die Heimat’ seeks to disrupt or destroy the existing order in Germany and thus crosses the line from simply rejecting it to actively “combating” it.

The party, which has survived several attempts to ban it altogether, will now be barred from receiving any money from the state for six years.

The court cited the party’s “essential affinity to National Socialism” and its ethnic concept of nationhood to justify the decision.

A party is eligible for financial support from the German government if it receives a certain number of votes in elections. ‘Die Heimat’ (‘The Homeland’), which has rarely gained more than 1% of the vote in regional elections, has therefore not received state funding since 2020. It was still eligible for tax benefits, however.

German authorities had previously sought to ban the party in 2003 and 2017 but both cases were dismissed by the Constitutional Court. In 2003, the court assumed that the then NPD could have been infiltrated by state security agents to such an extent that they could have “hijacked” the party.

In 2017, the judges said that the party was too insignificant to pose any serious threat to the constitutional order. Following the second decision, amendments were introduced to German legislation that allowed a party to be stripped of state funding over pursuing anti-constitutional goals. The new rules meant that such a ban could be applied regardless of the party’s ability to achieve these goals.

Tuesday’s decision was praised by German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, who called it “another instrument to protect our democracy.”

“Our democratic state does not finance enemies of the constitution,” she told journalists. She also branded far-right extremism the “greatest threat” faced by Germany.

Only two parties have been outright banned by the German Constitutional Court in the nation’s post-war history. In 1952, the court ruled against the Socialist Reich Party, which considered itself a successor to the Nazi Party. In 1956, it banned the Communist Party of Germany (KPD).

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