West Germany's extreme right-wing National Democratic Party (N.P.D.) today (Saturday) held their pre-election Congress meeting?
West Germany's extreme right-wing National Democratic Party (N.P.D.) today (Saturday) held their pre-election Congress meeting in a Stuttgart City Council-owned hall that had earlier in the week been refused to them on "fundamental legal and political" grounds. As the NPD members arrived at the hall, they had to force their way through hundreds of leftist demonstrators who threw eggs and tomatoes at them.
The NPD members protected themselves against the hurled objects with large pieces of cardboard as they dashed for the hall door which was guarded by a strong force of NPD stewards. Police had cordoned off the area with steel barricades but did not intervene in the scuffles between demonstrators and party officials. It was reported that three NPD members were slightly hurt. The Congress, with 800 members present, finally got under way an hour late.
The National Democrats, led by Herr Adolf von Thadden, hope to gain 40 to 60 seats in the Bundestag (Federal Lower House) at next September's election.
The issue of the far-right NPD is one of the thorny problems that Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger and his coalition government have to face. On one hand they are under pressure from many sectors to impose a constitutional court ban on the party. On the other hand, such a move might well lead to charges of election rigging. It is now too late for a ban to officially affect the next elections - but an impending court ruling on the legality of the National Democrat Party would be bound to have an effect on voters.
The Stuttgart Congress was held in the council-owned hall only after the NPD had been through a two-week battle to find a meeting place after Bonn's City Council had ignored a court order and paid a 2,000-mark(GBP200 sterling) fine rather than allow them to use the Beethoven Memorial Hall. Later, after the NPD had arranged to use the Stuttgart hall, the local council refused the permission to go through - getting a Municipal Court decision to that effect. Yesterday (Friday) an Appeal Court reversed the decision and allowed the meeting to be held.