Supporters of the AfD youth “Junge Alternative” at an election campaign event in Cottbus.
Image: Picture Alliance

Anyone who allows enemies of the constitution to do what they want for tactical reasons will bear heavy consequences if the experiment fails. It's better to try the right thing.

AWhen the NPD was supposed to be banned, there were sophisticated arguments as to why that was wrong. The right-wing extremists would benefit, it was said. A ban process would take years, microphones would be waiting for the right-wing extremists everywhere and they could spread their theories. And what if the ban failed? Then neo-Nazis would walk around with a supreme court confirmation of how harmless they are. And what about the institutions that submitted the ban request? They would look embarrassed and delegitimized because the right-wing extremists could say they were unjustly persecuted Democrats.

At first it seemed as if the critics were right. The proceedings took years and the applications failed twice. The NPD got the big forum and won. But she didn't benefit from it. There could be no question of a martyr's bonus, a delegitimization of institutions or a clean bill of health. During the first ban process, the NPD got 0.4 percent in a federal election, then 1.6 percent. During the second ban process it starved between 1.3 and 0.4 percent.