National Democrats Make Poor Showing in Local Elections in Three German States

The reputedly neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD) appeared to have slipped badly in local elections held in three German states yesterday. According to results tabulated so far, the extreme right-wing NPD won only 5.2 percent of the vote in Hesse compared to the 7.9 percent it won there in the local parliamentary elections of 1966. It polled only 5.2 percent of the Saarland vote where it had put up candidates for the first time. Results from Baden-Wurttemburg were not in but it appeared that the impressive 9.8 percent the NPD won there last April was reduced by some one to two-thirds.

Leaders of the Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democrats, the national coalition parties, were elated by the results and CDU secretary Bruno Heck said the NPD had “passed its peak.” The 5.2 percentage is just above the 5 percent figure needed in the national elections to qualify for representation in the Bundestag, West Germany’s lower house. In some political quarters yesterday, poor showing cast strong doubts on NPD chairman Adolf von Thadden’s forecast that his party would poll at least 10 percent of the vote in next year’s national elections and win 50 seats in the Bundestag. But other observers said, prior to yesterday’s elections, that the local results would not necessarily reflect the outcome on a national scale. It was noted also that the NPD gained its first city and county council seats in Hesse, Saarland and Baden-Wurttemburg yesterday.

Nevertheless, voter support for the NPD fell far short of the party’s expectations as evidenced by samplings from various municipalities and counties. In Hesse, Kassel, Offenbach and Marburg they failed to obtain 5 percent. In Darmstadt they dropped to 5.5 percent from the 10.4 percent polled in the last parliamentary elections. In Giessen, the NPD vote dropped from 10.1 to 5.5 percent and in Wiesbaden it was reduced from 9.6 to 6.1 percent. West Germany’s Minister of Interior, Dr. Ernst Benda, said today that despite the NPD’s poor showing, he was still considering asking the Government to take legal steps to have the NPD banned as anti-democratic. He said he would announce his decision by mid-November. The four-year-old NPD holds seats in seven of West Germany’s ten state legislatures.

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