Blowup in Brandenburg
State Legislator Removed from Chamber for Using Nazi Comparison
A far-right lawmaker in the Brandenburg state legislature compared a rival politician to a Nazi, and found himself barred from the session. It's a first in Brandenburg, where right-wing extremists have been winning government seats.
The eastern German state of Brandenburg kicked a legislator out of the chamber in its capital in Potsdam for the first time in its history on Wednesday after he compared a fellow lawmaker to a Nazi.
Markus Nonninger, a member of the far-right German People's Union (DVU), was scolded for breaking democratic rules of order when he compared the Social Democrat Christoph Schulze to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.
Schulze protested vehemently and called for Nonninger to be disciplined. The legislature's vice-president, Gerlinde Stobrawa, of the Left Party, asked Nonninger to apologize. When he wouldn't, she ordered him to abandon his seat in the middle of a full legislative session. He picked up his things and left, according to the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel.
The disciplinary move is unusual. A spokesman for the legislature, Katrin Rautenberg, said it had never happened during a full legislative session in Brandenburg before. Whether the punishment itself broke the legislature's rules of order, though, is still open to question.
Nazi rhetoric is inflammatory in Germany, where praising Hitler and displaying Nazi symbols are illegal. "The comparison to Goebbels is hair-raising and unbelievably insolent," said the head of the Social Democrats' party group in the state, Günter Baaske, according to the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper.
A statewide election is scheduled in Brandenburg on Sept. 28. Concern about right-wing extremists winning office at every level of government has simmered since 2004, when the DVU and another far-right party, the openly racist National Democrats (NPD), won seats in three German states -- Brandenburg, Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
In Brandenburg the DVU won 6 seats in the legislature with 6.4% of the vote.