Germany Seeks To Ban Far-Right Party NPD

01/03/2016_NPD
NPD leader Frank Franz, right, and the party's lawyer at the Constitutional Court in, Germany, March 1. Germany is seeking to ban the party. Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Germany’s constitutional court could ban a political party for the first time in 60 years, with the case’s first hearing due to start on Tuesday.

The case put before the court by Germany’s upper house of parliament will argue that the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) threatens German democracy, AFP reported.

The last time a party was prohibited in Germany was in 1956, when the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) was outlawed. Only one other party has been banned since World War II: Nazi Party descendent the SPR in 1952.

The NPD was founded in 1964. While it has enjoyed only limited democratic success (it scored just 1.3 percent in 2013 national elections), it does boast elected representatives. Party Chairman Udo Voigt sits in the European Parliament, and the party is represented in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in the East of Germany.

Five state premiers are expected to appear in the courtroom to testify against the NPD. The NPD is known for its anti-immigrant rhetoric and party chief Frank Franz last week wrote to police and army chiefs reminding them that their predecessors in Communist East Germany resisted the state in support of the people.

The last attempt to ban the party, launched by the German government in 2003, ended in an “embarrassment for the state,” according to Der Spiegel. The presence of undercover state agents within the party called some evidence into question, and the court rejected the ban attempt.

Three initial hearings are scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The party is contesting the attempted ban.