On the Rise

DRESDEN/SCHWERIN |

DRESDEN/SCHWERIN (Own report) - In the aftermath of the Saxonian NPD Party's local electoral victories, experts are fearing another parliamentary reinforcement of this rightwing extremist party. In the coming twelve months, there will be elections held in each of the NPD's regional strongholds. In Brandenburg, where they are sharing the candidature with their DVU rivals, local elections will be held already in September. In the meantime the NPD has been able to establish a "firm foothold" in several areas and seeks "to slowly take over other regions from these satellites" reports Andreas Speit, an expert on rightwing extremism, in a discussion with german-foreign-policy.com. The party's rise is not least of all due to its successful establishment as a rightwing extremist "collective movement", including violent "Kamaradschaften". The NPD's electoral victories are reinforcing racism and anti-Semitism in German society, as well as great-power fantasies, strengthening the view that Germany should be a world power, in rivalry with the United States. The NPD calls for "Europe" with "Germany as its focal point" becoming "an effective political and economic counter-balance to the USA".

Voter Base

Experts have been apprehensive that rightwing extremists could have more electoral successes this and the coming year, subsequent to the NPD's entry into each of Saxony's county councils through local elections at the beginning of June. In Saxony the NPD was able to extend its structures and have - for the first time - candidates statewide, which enhanced their electoral results from 1.3% in 2004 to 5.1%. In some areas they even surpassed the SPD and got up to 25% of the votes cast. According to opinion polls, they are expected to reach around nine percent in the 2009 state elections and again be represented in the state parliament. Similar prognoses have been made known for the state of Mecklenburg - West Pomerania. Hubertus Buchstein a political scientist based in Greifswald (Mecklenburg - West Pomerania) estimates the NPD's base of traditional voters in that region to be "over five percent" of the population.[1] Besides Mecklenburg - West Pomerania, local elections will also be held in Thuringia, in Saxony-Anhalt and in Saarland in 2009. In Saarland the NPD got more than 4% in the last elections. The influence of a strong rightwing extremist scene is being felt in Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt. The same holds true for Brandenburg, where local elections are scheduled already for September. Because the NPD, until now, has only been able to create its own structures in but one sector of Brandenburg, it has to give up some candidatures to the rightwing extremist DVU, which is already represented in the state parliament.

Growing Acceptance

As Andreas Speit, an expert on rightwing extremism, described in a discussion with german-foreign-policy.com, the NPD has been able to consolidate itself in several regions of the country over the past few years. The party is not only much more active in local politics than before, it "packages its ideology in a terminology, that speaks to anxieties and fears in the population" says Speit.[2] The party is also benefiting from the rightwing sentiment that, according to opinion polls, has been growing over the past few years. In its regional strongholds, the NPD has been able to considerably broaden its representation ranging from its presence in sports clubs Parent's Associations, in youth clubs and even their own medium and small business structures. Observers in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania are worried that the "civic strategy" is working. "The acceptance of an extremely rightwing content is growing steadily in the population."[3]

Collective Party

Simultaneously the NPD has been able to establish itself, to a growing extent, as a collective rightwing extremist party. It exerts "particularly over the past few years, a gravitational force on the entire extremist rightwing milieu" observes Speit.[4] This allows the NPD to consolidate within its party structures not only the numerous violence-prone neo-Nazis organized in local and regional "Kamaradschaften." It is attracting "even individuals from rightwing extremist intellectual milieus," says Speit. These are particularly active in state legislative parliamentary groups and their entourage. In fact, with the help of government finances to state parliamentary groups, the NPD has been able to gather a large number of academic trained rightwing extremists for its intellectualization efforts. It has had success so far in modulating conflicts between various tendencies and avoiding escalation of internal conflicts - an important prerequisite for success. It was because of such conflicts, among other things, that the NPD lost its newly won parliamentary influence at the beginning of the 1970s.

Violence

The NPD's political affinity to neo-Nazi violence, which has been consolidated through its cooperation with the Kamaradschaften, is not merely symbolized by several parliamentarians and parliamentary assistants with police records for assault and battery. Michael Andrejewski, NPD member of the Mecklenburg-West Pomerania state parliament, was responsible for the "Action 'Rostock stays German'" flyer in 1992, that called for "resistance" against an alleged "flood of aliens". The flyer was distributed in the summer of 1992, a prelude to the Rostock pogrom, during which a hostel was set afire, endangering more than 100 residents, who were barely able to escape the flames in time. Today Andrejewski is doing social counseling in eastern West-Pomerania.[5] The politically necessary verbal dissociation from rightwing extremist violence is generally on hand if needed. During a debate of the pogrom-like assaults on Turkish fast-food stands in the Saxonian capital Dresden, following the German victory over Turkey in the semi-finals of the European Soccer Cup, Juergen W. Gansel, an NPD MP in the state parliament, complained that the Saxonian Economic Minister paid visits of solidarity to the victims. Gansel demands that the state government not become "the fools of the aliens."[6]

European Focal Point

With the reinforcement of the NPD, not only racism and anti-Semitism is gaining influence in the society, great-power fantasies, seeing Germany as a world power in rivalry with the United States, are also being conceptualized. "Europe" must become "an effective political and economic counter-balance to the USA" is the perspective formulated in the party's "Europe Program". This concept sees Germany in a "special role", "as the European focal point."[7] The NPD demands that in the "political reorganization" of the continent, there must be "a ban on interventions for all those powers alien to the region." The keyword was coined by Carl Schmitt, an expert in governmental and constitutional law, the Third Reich's "crown jurist" and described as the "intellectual quartermaster" of German fascism, who today is again being extolled by establishment circles outside those of rightwing extremists.[8] The NPD, in its old anti-Semitic tradition, defines Israel and the USA as "powers alien to the region," but above all US-American influence is to be repelled from Europe.

"School of the Nation"

To "meet the challenges posed by the claims of other continental powers," the NPD calls for the dissolution of the EU and the founding of a loose "European federation", to be enhanced by an "European defense pact," a war alliance, militarily supportive of the rivalry with the USA. As always in German history, the military is of prime importance in these great power fantasies. The NPD demands that the "National German Armed Forces," "in the function of a 'school of the nation,' mold the oncoming generations and teach them the values of an new ethnic order of sovereign national states."[9] The world power ideology loaded with anti-Semitism and racism, makes this party into a highly aggressive potential, even for abroad, whose further development can be observed over the next 12 months in its electoral returns.[10]

Please read our Interview with Andreas Speit and our review of the book Neo-Nazis in Pinstripes by Andreas Speit and Andrea Röpke.

[1] Experte warnt vor NPD-Erfolgen bei Kommunalwahlen 2009; MVregio 09.07.2008
[2] see also Fest verankert
[3] Andrea Röpke, Andreas Speit (Hg.): Neonazis in Nadelstreifen. Die NPD auf dem Weg in die Mitte der Gesellschaft, Berlin 2008 (Christoph Links Verlag)
[4] see also Fest verankert
[5] Andrea Röpke, Andreas Speit (Hg.): Neonazis in Nadelstreifen. Die NPD auf dem Weg in die Mitte der Gesellschaft, Berlin 2008 (Christoph Links Verlag)
[6] Jürgen Gansel (NPD): "Aufhören, die Narren der Fremden zu sein!"; Pressemitteilung der sächsischen NPD-Landtagsfraktion 11.07.2008
[7] Europaprogramm der NPD
[8] see also Reichwerdung
[9] Europaprogramm der NPD
[10] see also Flankierender Beitrag, Nicht fremd, 8. Mai: "Morgen ein Sieg", Menschenjäger and Gut geschützt