Far-right leader backs Merkel ally in debate over youth crime

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The leader of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) praises a key ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel who called for the deportation of foreign criminals from Germany.

8th January 2008

Berlin (dpa) - Udo Voigt said the NPD would benefit from the call made by Roland Koch, the Christian Democratic (CDU) premier of Hesse state, who is seeking re-election at polls on January 27.

"When established politicians adopt the NPD's arguments, it will lead to more citizens placing their trust in the policies of the NPD and as a result vote for the NPD," Voigt said in Berlin.

Koch used a much publicised attack by two Greek and Turkish youths on a German pensioner at a Munich subway train last month to call for tougher punishment for young delinquents and deportation of non-German offenders.

The CDU leadership backed the state premier's call, while its Social Democratic coalition partner accused it of "populism" and said existing laws were sufficient to deal with the issue.

Charlotte Knobloch, president of Germany's national council of Jews, warned that highlighting the ethnicity of the suspects might play into the hands of neo-Nazi campaigners.

She said crimes committed by youths with an immigrant background were "a welcome argument" for NPD functionaries to call into question the right of foreigners to live in Germany.

The anti-foreigner NPD is represented in the state parliaments of Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, both in the former communist east of Germany. It won 1.6 per cent of the vote in last federal election in 2005.

There have been calls for the party to be banned, but leading German politicians have expressed doubts whether a ban could be imposed after a similar attempt was quashed by the country's top court in 2003.



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