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West German Minister Debates Putting Republicans Under Watch

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is reported to be hesitating over recommendations to place the extreme right-wing Republican Party under close surveillance.

But he has come under mounting pressure to monitor the Munich-based party headed by former Waffen SS officer Franz Schoenhuber, a party widely regarded in West Germany as neo-Nazi.

Experts of the Verfassungsshutz, the federal agency combating political extremism, have just concluded that the Republican Party is dangerous to democratic institutions and warrants scrutiny.

The Bundestag’s Interior Affairs Committee asked the government Thursday to make its report available without delay. Parts of the report have already been leaked to the news media.

Heinz Galinski, chairman of West Germany’s Jewish community, urged the federal authorities Thursday to have the intelligence agencies keep close tabs on the Republicans.

Galinski, who has frequently traded barbs with Schoenhuber, accused the Republicans of damaging West Germany’s image abroad.

Schaeuble can ignore this advice and risk criticism for being soft on right-wing extremists, or he can place the party under strict observation, thereby alienating its supporters.

The Republicans have done unexpectedly well in local and regional elections in the past year, largely at the expense of Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s ruling Christian Democratic Union coalition.

Schaeuble is said to be convinced that hundreds o.” thousands of voters who deserted the CDU for the Republicans can be enticed back if they arc not branded extremists.

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