BONN (Nov. 7)
Democratic forces throughout West Germany expressed deep concern today over the results in yesterday’s state elections in the Province of Hesse, where the ultra-right-wing National Democratic Party, a fusion which includes many ex-Nazis and neo-Nazis, scored its first important victory. For the first time, the NDP has won seats in a state parliament. The NDP will hold, as a result of yesterday’s balloting, eight of the 96 seats in the Hesse Parliament.
In some districts in Hesse, a state in the heart of West Germany’s industrial and commercial life, including the cities of Frankfurt and Wiesbaden, the NDP scored as high as 10 percent of the total ballot. The NDP failed to qualify as a party entitled to representation in the state parliament in only three voting districts in the entire state.
The Social Democrats, leading party in the state, garnered 52 seats in Parliament. Chancellor Ludwig Erhard’s Christian Democratic Party came next, with 26 seats, while the Free Democratic Party won 10 seats. The small Federation for Refugees and Disfranchised, which has been in the Social Democrat-dominated State coalition, did very badly in the voting.
Minister of the Interior Paul Luecke, who had some months ago openly called the NDP a “neo-Nazi” group, said today that the party’s strength in the elections — in which it had polled more than 200,000 Hesse votes — is “an alarm signal that should not be played down.” “All the strength of democracy must be put into action to counter it,” he added.
Bruno Heck, another member of the Cabinet, said: “I am very worried. These people are not old Nazis; they are the new generation, between 18 and 30.” Eric Mende, leader of the Free Democratic Party, also took note of the fact that many young people had cast their ballots for the NDP ticket.
The only voice in official Germany that applauded the voting results was Heinrich Fassbender, leader of the NDP in Hesse. He ignored charges that, during the election campaign, the Nazi trend of his membership had shown up in the fact that the campaign posters of many other candidates had been smeared with swastikas. He said outright today that the Hesse results have projected the NDP onto the national political scene. “This election,” he boasted, “is the springboard from which we shall jump into national politics.”