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"Die Rechte" - The Right
Die Republikaner (REP)
German People's Union (Deutsche Volksunion - DVU)
Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (NPD)
[National Democratic Party (NPD) ]

Founded in May 2012, - chose a name that reflects its program and was likely deliberately chosen as an analogy to the left-wing party "Die Linken" - or The Left. In its political program, The Right claims it fully adheres to the German constitution and aims for democracy and stronger citizens' participation. The program, however, also calls for the "preservation of the German identity," which is defined as a "core concern" for the party. The program calls for the abrogation of "tolerance permits granted to foreigners permanently living in Germany."

The Right saw itself as the successor of the "Deutsche Volksunion" (German People's Union, DVU), a right-wing extremist party that merged with the Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (National Democratic Party of Germany, NPD) in 2011. One of The Right's founding members and current chairman is Christian Worch, a former high-ranking member of the DVU. On its website, The Right positions itself as "less radical than the NPD," but "more radical than the REPs" (Die Republikaner, the Republicans, a right-wing party founded in the 1980s). The party sees itself as a catch-all for everyone to the right of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the major German center-right party led by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Christian Worch is a leading member of the militant neo-Nazi scene in Germany. the concept of "Freie Kameradschaften," which roughly translates to "free comradeships," is widely seen as this brainchild. Since the mid-1990s, neo-Nazis used the Freie Kameradschaften, which lack a formal organizational structure, as a means of circumventing governmental sanctions. Following the ban of several of these comradeships by the state Interior Ministry in North Rhine-Westphalia in 2012, The Right managed to establish several political branches in the region with the help of former Kameradschaften members.

On the opposite end of the political spectrum from the Greens are two parties of the far right, the Republikaner (Die Republikaner--REP), with about 23,000 members, and the German People's Union (Deutsche Volksunion--DVU), with 26,000 members. As of mid- 1995, these two parties had not gained sufficient support to win seats in the Bundestag, but the DVU was represented in Land parliaments in Bremen (with 6.2 percent of the vote in 1991) and Schleswig-Holstein (with 6.3 percent of the vote in 1992); the Republikaner held seats in Baden-Württemberg (with 10.9 percent of the vote in 1992). The Republikaner received 2.1 percent of the vote in the all-Germany election of December 1990 and 1.9 percent in the October 1994 election.

In the early 1990s, the rallying cry of the far right was "Germany for the Germans." This slogan appeals to many Germans, particularly young, male, rural, less educated, blue-collar workers who fear for their economic future and regard the large pool of asylum-seekers as competitors for housing, social programs, and jobs. These particular Germans are also uneasy about greater integration within the European Union (EU--see Glossary), which, in their minds, requires Germany to forfeit too much of its identity and share too much of its prosperity. According to some observers, the far right's electoral support represents, in part, a protest vote against the mainstream parties. German politicians repeatedly remark on the electorate's Politikverdrossenheit --a deep disaffection with all things political.

Franz Schönhuber, a one-time Bavarian television moderator and former officer in the Nazi Waffen-SS, formed the Republikaner in 1983 from a group of discontented members of the CSU. Schönhuber published a book in 1981 boasting of his experiences in the Waffen-SS but has staunchly denied that his party has neo-Nazi leanings. Elected to the European Parliament in 1989, Schönhuber, over seventy years old in mid-1995, tried to portray the party as a mainstream group that does not promote bigotry but merely protects German national interests.

The party platform speaks for itself. In it, the Republikaner blame foreigners, who make up about 8 percent of the German population, for the housing shortage, street crime, and pollution. Among other things, the party has proposed banning Islamic community centers from sponsoring political or cultural activities other than prayer, and it has advocated putting asylum-seekers in collection camps "to minimize the native population's existing and growing antipathy toward foreign residents." The party platform also proposed creating separate classes for foreign schoolchildren, and it rejects "the multicultural society that has made the United States the world's largest showplace of crime and latent racial conflict."

Reportedly, the Republikaner attracted about 5,000 new members in eastern Germany in 1992 and 1993. Schönhuber contends that support in the east comes from young Germans between twenty and thirty years of age, whereas in the west support comes from members of his own generation. Schönhuber, the party's only nationally known figure, was deposed as party leader in the fall of 1994 because he had proposed that his party join forces with the more extreme DVU.

Gerhard Frey, the Munich publisher of two weekly neofascist newspapers, Deutsche National-Zeitung (print run 63,000) and Deutsche Wochen-Zeitung (20,000), founded the DVU in 1971. The DVU espouses many of the views held by the Republikaner, but it goes one step further in tacitly supporting violence against asylum- seekers and foreign workers. Frey, over sixty years old in mid-1995, has sought to distance himself from pro-Nazi sentiments while simultaneously insisting that most Germans want to live in a racially pure country.

Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz--BfV), announced in April 1992 that the DVU was under surveillance to determine if the party met the legal definition of "antidemocratic," a classification that would permit the government to ban it. A similar investigation of the Republikaner was announced in December 1992. Such surveillance legally can include government infiltration of the party, monitoring of mail and telephone calls, and interrogation of party members. The BfV has classified both parties as "right-wing extremist" and "constitutionally hostile."

Since its founding in 1964, the Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (NPD - National Democratic Party NPD) has walked a fine line between legal and illegal behavior, yet barely gained political traction and has never won a seat in the federal parliament. By 2016 it held a smattering of city council seats, five state lawmakers in Mecklenburg and a single member of the European Parliament.

The first attempt to ban the NPD in 2003 failed on technical grounds, when the judge questioned the legitimacy of the presented evidence. A large part of the evidence stemmed from high-level NPD functionaries who were also undercover informants for the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which protected their identities.

According to German domestic intelligence reports, the National Democratic Party (NPD) had some 6,300 members in 2011. Despite the downward trend, it remained Germany's largest right-wing party. However, the party's success with voters is very limited. In the 2009 federal elections, the NPD secured just 1.5 percent of the vote, providing it with parliament seats in only two states: Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The extremists use the parliament as a platform to voice their ideas. Bu the party is burdened by members' ties to Germany's Nazi past as well as their pronounced anti-Semitism. The party lacked any charismatic political leaders.

The interior ministers of Germany's 16 states said in 2013 that it was obvious that the NPD was in violation of constitutional principles such as the provision of respect for human dignity. As a result, they launched a second attempt to ban the party, which was represented in two of Germany's state parliaments. Those behind the renewed attempt to ban the party believe informants are no longer active at the top levels of the NPD. The state interior ministers say information for their ban petition was collected entirely without the aid of insider sources.

Even if there's widespread agreement that the NPD advocates extremism and violates constitutional principles, not everyone supports a ban on the group. Even politicians within the Left and Green parties in Germany have voiced opposition to an outright ban.

By early 2016 Germany's top constitutional court was det to rule on whether the 'neo-Nazi' NPD should be barred from politics.

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Page last modified: 14-03-2016 11:56:28 ZULU