Neofascist Party Gains in Local Elections

In September, Germany's extreme-right National Democratic Party (NPD), whose platform includes repatriating foreigners and a belief that Germany should stop apologizing for the Holocaust, won seats in the parliament of the formerly communist state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. On the same day, it entered five of Berlin's 12 district councils, but failed to win enough votes to enter Berlin's state assembly.

The NPD won 7.3% in Chancellor Angela Merkel's home state on the Baltic Sea coast, clearing the 5% threshold needed to enter the state assembly. Germany's far-right parties are now represented in three of the five state parliaments in the part of the country once known as East Germany. The NPD entered the Saxony state parliament in 2004 and another far-right party, the German People's Union (DVU), has seats in Brandenburg, near Berlin.

Apparently proving that the NPD's strategy of courting young people through concerts and other forms of outreach is working, 15% of 18- to 24-year-olds voted NPD in Mecklenburg.

"The fight for Germany continues," party chairman Udo Voigt said in a video statement on the NPD's Web site, boasting that the far right has gained a foothold in four of Germany's 16 state parliaments.

A week before its victory, the NPD launched an Internet news program available on Youtube.com. The footage in one segment was devoted to the annual memorial march for Rudolf Hess, the Nazi official who committed suicide in Spandau prison near Berlin in 1987 and remains an NPD idol. At the end of the show, producers attempted to arrange a live-feed with the Hamburg lawyer Jürgen Rieger, who has been active in Germany's extreme right since the 1960s and is the main organizer of the yearly Hess march.

The show, posted online Sept. 10, was seen as a trial run by the NPD, which envisions one day operating a proper NPD-TV channel. "Soon, we'll transmit over the Internet a weekly news show from our party headquarters," party spokesman Klaus Beier told a German newspaper.