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Banning political parties in a democratic constitutional state: the second NPD ban proceedings in a comparative perspective


Patterns of Prejudice
Journal abstract
Backes’s article discusses the judgement of the Second Senate of the German Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court) of 17 January 2017—not to ban the right-wing extremist party Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (NPD)—in light of recent lively international debates on the protection of democracy. It considers the logic of an examination of proportionality as established by German constitutional law, considering aspects of the legitimacy, suitability, necessity and appropriateness of the party ban. The article shows that the newly introduced criterion of ‘potentiality’ requires an examination of proportionality even if the court itself denies this. Thus the threshold for intervention has been raised, moderately, since a concrete or even immediate threat as defined in police law is not required. The Court links the definition of a free democratic basic order more closely to the established minimum definitions of comparative research and provides clarification that further refutes the (exaggerated) accusation of ‘vagueness’. In doing so it has sharpened the contours of the concept of militant democracy that is widely regarded in international comparative studies.

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