German Right-wing Party Success Activating Fight by Mainstream

The latest electoral success of the far right-wing Republican Party appears to have galvanized mainstream politicians.

All of the major parties were vowing Monday to fight back against the extremists, whom many call neo-Nazi.

The ruling Christian Democratic Union reiterated its pledge never to form a coalition with the Republicans, who are led by a former Waffen SS officer, Franz Schoenhuber.

The nature of the party makes the results of Sunday’s local elections in the federal state of Baden-Wurtemberg all the more disturbing.

The Republicans not only improved on their generally good performance in last month’s North Rhine-Westphalia elections; they scored most heavily in the large cities, where the old established political parties are strongest.

The Republicans won 9.5 percent of the popular vote in Stuttgart; 6 percent in Karlsruhe; more than 10 percent in Mannheim; 12.5 percent in Pforzheim; 7.5 percent in Freiburg; and 7.2 percent in Ulm.

Those returns seem to reflect a successful switch of strategy by the Bavarian-based Republicans, whose original power base was among disaffected rural voters.

Still exploiting popular discontent, they have turned to the urban dwellers fearful of housing and job competition from foreigners, including ethnic German emigres from Eastern Europe and, most recently, East German refugees.

Although he has astutely avoided gutter anti-Semitism in his campaigns, Schoenhuber has been at odds with the West German Jewish community and particularly its feisty leader, Heinz Galinski.

Schoenhuber has stated publicly that the German Jews constitute “the fifth occupying power,” the others being the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union.

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