The case before the Federal Constitutional Court will argue that the far-right and anti-immigrant National Democratic Party (NPD) spells a threat to the country’s democratic order.
A previous attempt to ban the NPD failed in 2003 because the presence of undercover state informants within party ranks was seen as muddying the evidence.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government supports the case, although it has not formally joined the high-stakes legal gamble launched by the upper house of parliament that represents Germany’s 16 states.
Critics charge the proceedings will give the NPD, a party with only about 5,200 members, a national stage and that a ban could turn its members into martyrs for their racist cause.
The party, founded in 1964 as a successor to the neo-fascist German Reich Party, scored just 1.3 percent in 2013 national elections and has never crossed the five percent hurdle for entry into the national parliament.
However, it is represented in the state assembly of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in the former communist East and in many town councils in the region.
It also has one seat in the European Parliament, held by former party chief Udo Voigt who once, in a newspaper interview, labelled Adolf Hitler “a great statesman”.
NPD chief Franz Frank last week sent letters to police and army troops, reminding them that in the former East Germany security forces resisted against the state and stood by the people — a letter seen by some as urging a coup d’etat.
Five state premiers are expected in the courtroom, along with interior ministers and the chiefs of federal and state security services and police forces.
The legal bar to outlaw any political party in Germany is high. Only two parties have been banned since World War II — an heir of the Nazi party, the SPR, in 1952 and the German Communist Party four years later.
To make their case, the states must convince judges that the NPD is unconstitutional, represents an active threat to the democratic order and holds an “aggressive and combative attitude”.
They will also seek to prove the NPD is creating a “climate of fear” in Germany and “shares essential characteristics” with the Nazis.
They will likely point to the fact that a former NPD senior member, Ralf Wohlleben, is on trial for supporting the far-right militant group National Socialist Underground which murdered 10 people, most of Turkish origin, between 2000 and 2006.
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