A majority of 502 of 579 delegates in the German Bundestag voted Thursday in favor of amending the country’s constitution to deprive anti-democratic political parties of federal money. One of the first groups likely to be affected by the new rules is the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), which received 1.1 million euros ($1.2 million) last year. German Justice Minister Heiko Maas was pleased with the constitutional amendment. “The state is under no obligation to finance enemies of democracy,” Maas said in a statement just ahead of the vote. “Devoting tax money to the NPD is a direct state investment in radical right-wing incitement.” Under the previous rules, any party garnering 1 percent in a local election or 0.5 percent in a national or EU election automatically qualified for state funding up to the amount of money raised by the party itself. The NPD polled 1.5 percent and 1 percent respectively in the 2013 German national election and the 2014 EU election.
From now on, financial support will be contingent on the party not having designs on undermining German democracy. Parties that don’t fulfill that criterion will have no recourse to public funds for a period of six years. And that’s bad news for the NPD.
MPs from the conservative CDU-CSU and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), who together form Germany’s governing coalition, all voted for the amendment, portraying it as an example of German democracy defending itself.
Helmut Brandt of the CDU called it a “contradiction” to give money to a party that wanted to get rid of the constitution when the government also spends some 104.5 million euros a year to combat such views.