Germany’s top court on Tuesday stripped a neo-Nazi party of the right to public financing and the tax advantages normally extended to political organizations, a decision that could provide a blueprint for government efforts to head off a resurgence of the far right.
Although the party, Die Heimat, which means the Homeland, was already too small to receive public funding, the case was closely watched because it could have implications for countering the Alternative for Germany, or AfD, a far more popular far-right party.
“Today’s decision by the Federal Constitutional Court sends out a clear signal: Our democratic state does not fund enemies of the Constitution,” Nancy Faeser, Germany’s interior minister, said in a statement.
The government had tried to ban Die Heimat, which was formerly known as the National Democratic Party, or N.P.D., but failed because the court found that the party did not have enough support to hold any meaningful influence, prompting the government to begin in 2019 the procedure that culminated in the funding ban on Tuesday.
In recent months, scholars and politicians have argued that the AfD should be banned on the basis that the party represents a threat to democracy. Others, however, have warned that approach, which would take years to clear all of the political and legal hurdles, could backfire by making the party even more popular.
Some experts have said that a ban on its public financing, as the court did with Die Heimat, could be an effective middle ground: It would hinder the AfD, without banning it outright.