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Poll Shows Right-wing Party Lacks Votes to Enter German Parliament

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The extreme rightwing Republican Party, which has made impressive gains in recent local elections, would not now win enough votes in national elections to enter the West German parliament, according to a poll conducted for the State-owned ZDF television network in Mainz.

The Munich-based party, headed by former Waffen SS officer Franz Schoenhuber, is widely regarded as neo-Nazi, despite its own statements to the contrary.

The party surprised and disturbed moderates and conservatives alike Sunday by winning 10 percent of the popular vote on average in local elections in the state of Baden-Wurtemberg.

In some constituencies, it garnered as much as 20 percent. The Republicans did almost as well in last month’s elections in North Rhine-West-phalia, West Germany’s largest state.

But analysts say these successes were in referendums that do not attract the same voters who participate in national elections.

A minimum of 5 percent of the popular vote is needed to gain representation in the Bundestag, as the national parliament is called. According to the ZDF poll, the Republicans would get only 3 percent at best, if elections were held now.

General elections are scheduled for December 1990, and Schoenhuber is already preparing by trying to shed his party’s extremist image. He has deliberately alienated declared neo-Nazis as he tries to gain acceptance as a “respectable” party.

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