Banning Germany's Far Right: 'The NPD Has No Need for Legal Protection'

In an effort to preempt a ban on its existence, Germany's far-right NPD party has taken the unusual step of asking the country's high court to confirm its constitutionality. The request isn't likely to be taken seriously, legal expert Martin Morlok explains.

The NPD wants Germany's high court to declare it constitutional. Zoom
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The NPD wants Germany's high court to declare it constitutional.

SPIEGEL: The right-wing extremist National Democratic Party (NPD) wants the Federal Constitutional Court to determine whether the party is in violation of the German constitution. Is such a request even possible?

Morlok: No. There is no such thing as a proceeding to determine that an organization is all clean. And even if the party were found to be constitutional today, it could be different tomorrow.

SPIEGEL: The NPD argues that it must be allowed to legally defend itself against the ongoing debate over whether the party should be banned.

Morlok: I understand that in a certain sense. For years now, this renewed move to ban the party has hung over the NPD's head like a sword of Damocles, without any concrete steps having been taken. But they still don't have any need for legal protection. As long as the NPD isn't banned, it can exercise all of its political rights. And in cases of concrete disadvantage, for instance with candidates for office, they can defend themselves in court.

SPIEGEL: The NPD complaint is also directed at German parliamentarians who have time and again branded the party unconstitutional and called for a ban.

Morlok: That's an issue for the lower courts, not the Federal Constitutional Court. Plus, the NPD would have to file a complaint claiming its rights had been violated by parliament members within six months. And most of the statements the NPD lists in its complaint are older than that.

SPIEGEL: But in principal the party could take legal action?

Morlok: Theoretically, yes, in the case of wrongful defamation. But, within the framework of a discussion about whether or not the party should be banned, of course statements like that are admissible. The party could also defend itself politically by emphasizing its dedication to the constitution -- which indeed it does.

SPIEGEL: The NPD has said that, should it be unsuccessful before the German high court, it would continue on to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Is the complaint just a bid to end up in front of an international court as quickly as possible?

Morlok: That's conceivable, but there too they won't be able to get preemptive protection. I think the whole thing is a nice gag, but not legally well thought out.

Interview conducted by Dietmar Hipp

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About Martin Morlok
  • DPA
    Legal expert Martin Morlok, 63, holds the chair for Public Law, State Theory and State Sociology at Henrich Heine University in Düsseldorf. He is former director and current assistant director of The Institute of German and International Party Law and Party Research.

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