Thu Sep 21st, 2006 at 05:54:09 AM EST
Even though the elections in two States in Germany past Sunday could still result in the return of two red-red governments, the big story has been the electoral gains of the neonazi NPD.
The NPD has entered the State government in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, and several local district councils in Berlin.
(From my blog. Slight editing to reflect post-election view)
from the diaries. - Jérôme
During the campaign, the Hauptstadtblog asked what is to be done about the NPD's election posters here (de). Should they be ignored, or should they be discussed? But this question is bigger. What can be done about the NPD?
In the Netherlands, a somewhat less criminal far-right party called the Centre Democrats was succesfully isolated and cast out of the electoral system. The strategy taken for this was twofold: isolation of the party in the sense of no discussion on content, but also an active and ongoing argument against the social acceptability of the party's existence.
On the other hand, in Belgium the so-called 'cordon sanitaire' against the far-right Vlaams Blok is a complete failure, giving them ever greater electoral gains, and the legal steps against the movement have triggered little other than getting it to change its name (into Vlaams Belang).
The difference is that the Vlaams Blok is addressing a theme which is not being dealt with in Belgian politics - the disparate economic development of the Dutch and French speaking parts. A similar situation exists in Italy and fuels the support of the Lega Nord.
Another difference is that the leader of the CD in the Netherlands - Janmaat - was as thoroughly uncharismatic as a politician can get, and his demise was accomponied by a more restrictive take on immigration in the right-liberal VVD party at the time.
In Germany, there is a large suspicion that the NPD is behind a string of racist attacks and other brown-shirt tactics, or at least accommodates these. If sufficient evidence can be gathered, declaring the party a criminal organisation and breaking it up is a strong option. But even if this is done, a more explicit tactic to deal with a lot of other far-right parties will be needed.