A myriad small German parties, including the neo-Nazi NPD, could enter the European Parliament following a ruling by the Constitutional Court on Wednesday (26 February) to abolish the minimum threshold for the vote. The Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe says the threshold discriminates against small parties. The verdict, approved with 5 out of the 8 votes in the judging panel, says fringe parties are being discriminated against with the current three-percent threshold. The Karlsruhe-based court already in 2011 ruled that a five-percent threshold in place for the 2009 EU elections was unconstitutional. Following that ruling, Germany’s parliament lowered the threshold to three percent, arguing that smaller parties could hamper the work of the European Parliament. The law was challenged again – this time by a coalition of 19 fringe parties, including the neo-Nazi NPD and the German Pirate Party. The judges agreed with the plaintiffs.
“One also cannot simply assume that the traditional practice of flexible forming of majorities in Parliament would be significantly complicated by the election of new parliamentarians from smaller parties,” the verdict reads.
The judges argue that the two major parties – the centre-right EPP and the Social Democrats – could form a voting alliance, so that small parties will not be able to hamper the workings of the EU legislature.
And since the composition of the European Parliament is divided per country, with Germany filling 96 out of the available 751 seats in the new legislature, a de facto threshold of about one percent exists for a party to actually get an MEP, the judges noted.
The NPD welcomed the verdict and said it would focus all its “strength” on the EU elections campaign.