Far-right NPD to enter German state parliament

18th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

18 September 2006, BERLIN - Extreme right-wing parties were represented in four German state legislatures Sunday after the National Democratic Party (NPD) gained enough votes to enter parliament in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. The NPD, accused by Germany's domestic intelligence agency of fomenting racist violence, won 7.3 per cent of the vote - easily breaking the 5-per-cent threshold for parliamentary representation - in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. The party has been represented in the Saxony state assembl

18 September 2006

BERLIN - Extreme right-wing parties were represented in four German state legislatures Sunday after the National Democratic Party (NPD) gained enough votes to enter parliament in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania.

The NPD, accused by Germany's domestic intelligence agency of fomenting racist violence, won 7.3 per cent of the vote - easily breaking the 5-per-cent threshold for parliamentary representation - in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania.

The party has been represented in the Saxony state assembly since 2004, while another far-right party, the DVU, sits in parliament in Bremen as well as in Brandenburg, the state surrounding Berlin.

Analysts had projected a good showing by the NPD in Mecklenburg- West Pomerania, a state in the former communist East Germany on the Baltic coast. One of Germany's poorest regions with a jobless rate of 18.2 per cent - nearly double the national average, tens of thousands of people have left the state in search of work since unification in 1990.

The NPD capitalized on voter dissatisfaction with the coalition of Social Democrats (SPD) and reformed communist PDS, which has ruled the state of eight years, analysts said.

The Social Democrats saw their share of the vote drop by around 10 points to 30.2 per cent, while the PDS, now known as the Left Party, was almost unchanged at 16.8 per cent. Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) polled a post-unification low of 28.8 per cent.

State Premier Harald Ringstorff, 66, left open the possibility of renewing his coalition with the Left Party or forming an alliance with the CDU, mirroring the "grand coalition" between SPD and CDU at national level.

A second state election Sunday in Berlin saw the SPD increase its share of the vote to 30.8 per cent, enabling it to remain the largest party, ahead of the Christian Democrats at 21.3 per cent. The Greens and the SPD's Left Party coalition partner both polled just above 13 per cent. 

SPD Mayor Klaus Wowereit, 52, who wrested power from the CDU in 2001, capitalized on his popularity among the capital's 2.4 million voters despite the city's enormous debt of 58 billion euros (73 billion dollars).

Wowereit declined to say if he would continue with what Germans call a "red-red" coalition or seek a new partner in the Greens.

Voter turnout in both states was down by about 10 percentage points from the last state elections, a factor that analysts said helped the NPD in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania but not in Berlin, where the party failed to enter parliament.

"Come and vote in order to prevent the neo-Nazis from getting into the national assembly," Ringstorff said when casting his ballot shortly after the polls opened.

After the vote, he promised a tough democratic fight with the "brown brothers" in the NPD - a reference to the uniforms once worn by the paramilitary wing of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party. 

The elections were seen as a barometer of support for Merkel's coalition with the SPD, the popularity of which has slumped since it came to power 10 months ago amid widespread disenchantment with reforms to healthcare and tax changes.

DPA

Subject: German news

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