The neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD) made it best showing ever in German national elections this September, quadrupling its 2002 national election results but still failing to meet the threshold for election to parliament.
The NPD polled 1.6% in the Sept. 18 vote, dramatically boosting the 0.4% it won in the previous national election. That translated to 743,903 votes.
In Germany, as in many European parliamentary systems, a party must win at least 5% of the national vote to get even one deputy into the Bundestag, or federal parliament. The NPD, which was formed in early 1960s and is now headed by Udo Voigt, has never managed to win enough votes to be represented nationally.
Still, the NPD has done surprisingly well since reaching an agreement not to compete with another neofascist party, the German People's Union. Last year, the NPD won 9.2% of the vote in state elections in Saxony, sending 12 representatives to the state parliament as a result. In the September election, candidates from the NPD again broke through the 5% barrier in a number of small towns. No seats were gained, but the results suggest possible victories in future local elections.
The German government attempted unsuccessfully to ban the NPD in 2003. Ultimately, a court ruled that the party was so infiltrated by German security service agents that it couldn't decide who was actually making its decisions.
Discussion of the ban was revived last January, after the NPD's leader in Saxony made a speech in the state parliament accusing the United States and Britain of being "mass murderers" because of the bombing of Dresden during World War II. All 12 NPD deputies in the Saxon parliament also walked out to protest a moment of silence held to commemorate the Soviet Union's liberation of Auschwitz.