BONN (Jan. 30)
Mainstream politicians expressed shock and concern Monday, while thousands of people shouted “Nazis Out,” after the unexpectedly strong showing by the neo-Nazi Republican Party in the West Berlin legislative elections Sunday.
The Republicans, led by Franz Schonhuber, 66, a former SS officer, won 8 percent of the popular vote to take 11 seats in the 128-seat legislature.
Some 8,000 anti-Nazi demonstrators, mainly leftists, students and trade unionists, marched through the streets shouting slogans and waving banners.
One banner read, “Nothing learned?” — a reference to the 56th anniversary Monday of the Nazis’ coming to power in Germany in 1933.
The Republicans campaigned on an xenophobic platform, aimed mainly against the many Turks living in West Berlin who they accused, among other things, of drug trafficking.
But the party also harped on “democratically purified patriotism,” a phrase both vague and ominous.
Most of the traditional parties lost ground. The majority Christian Democratic Union fell 10 percentage points below its popular vote in the last elections three years ago.
Its coalition partner, the Free Democratic Party, failed to muster the 5 percent needed for a seat in the legislature and was eliminated from the city’s parliament.
The CDU ruled out a coalition with the extreme right.
West Berlin’s Social Democratic Party, which gained 5 percentage points, rejected a coalition with the far left.