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Top German court strips financing of extreme-right party

January 23, 2024

The Constitutional Court has ruled that the far-right extremist party "Die Heimat," formerly NPD, should not benefit from state support. The ruling could affect deliberations regarding the far-right AfD party.

 The Constitutional Court, or Bundesverfassungsgericht, eagle logo seen on the court building
The Constitutional Court, or Bundesverfassungsgericht, is situated in KarlsruheImage: Uli Deck/dpa/picture alliance

Germany's Constitutional Court ruled on Tuesday that the extreme right-wing NPD should have its state subsidies withdrawn and its tax relief canceled for six years.

The case is to an extent symbolic, as the Nationalist Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), now known as "Die Heimat" (The Homeland), has not been receiving subsidies in recent times after failing to obtain enough votes in elections. However, it still benefits from tax relief measures.

The court's ruling could well play a role in current deliberations over whether similar measures could be taken against the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

The president of the lower house of parliament, or Bundestag, Bärbel Bas, said that the case against the NPD/Die Heimat was "of great political importance," as it had never been explicable to the general populace why anti-state parties should receive taxpayers' money.

What did the court decide?

The judges ruled on whether Die Heimat's agenda was sufficiently anticonstitutional to warrant the cancelation of the state support generally granted to political parties.

A ban on the then-NPD failed for the second time in 2017 only because the court ruled that its lack of influence meant it could not achieve its anticonstitutional aims.

Under German law, parties that are found to be guilty of attempts to undermine the constitutional, democratic order can have subsidies withdrawn for up to six years in the first instance.

The German government and both houses of parliament applied to have the party excluded from state support in 2019.

It is the first time such a ruling has been handed down by the Constitutional Court. The possibility of withdrawing state support from parties was introduced in 2017 after the bid to ban the NPD failed.

Mass protests against Germany's far right gain new momentum

What are the rules on state party financing?

Political parties in Germany can receive subsidies whose amounts depend partly on the number of votes they receive in state, federal and European elections.

The then-NPD last received a subsidy in 2020, when it was granted €370,600 ($404,273) because it obtained 3.02% of the vote in 2016 elections in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

In 2016, it received more than €1.1 million, having had greater success in previous elections. That compares with the almost €51 million given to the Social Democrats (SPD) — one of the two major mainstream parties in Germany alongside the Christian Democrats (CDU) — in that year.

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tj/wmr (dpa, AFP)