Many leading figures across Germany’s main political parties have expressed outrage at the election of a far-right extremist party member as the head of a town council in the central German state of Hesse.
Stefan Jagsch, a member of the National Democratic Party (NDP), a party often viewed as being neo-Nazi, was sworn in to lead the local council in Waldsiedlung – a small town of 2500 residents, 30 kilometres north-east of Frankfurt.
A non-partisan council of 7 representatives from the major political parties in Germany voted unanimously in favour of Jagsch; this included members of Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Free Democratic party (FDP).
Jagsch ran unopposed for the position.
The SPD’s Secretary-General Lars Klingbeil showed his disgust at the decision by tweeting: ‘We don’t cooperate with Nazis!’ and called for the decision to be reversed. Similarly, the CDU’s General-Secretary Paul Ziemiak, commenting in Bild, expected ‘this decision to be corrected’.
‘The board had not taken the process very seriously’ stated Werner Zientz, the CDU representative in the council. Jagsch ‘filled a vacuum’ according to the SPD chairman in Altenstadt, the area which encompasses Waldsiedlung.
However, another CDU representative, Norbert Szilasko, offered a different view, telling the Hessenschau News Network that they picked Jagsch for his skills, stating that we simply ‘have nobody else’.
On his Facebook page, Jagsch promised to ‘work for the interest of the town and continue to work constructively across parties’.
Jagsch has previously compared migration to genocide and has used the term ‘Lügenpresse’ – lying press – a term popularised by the Nazi state in the 1930s.
In 2017, the Bundesverfassungsgericht – the German Constitutional Court – ruled against the banning of the NPD, stating that the party was not in a position to damage the democracy of Germany. It did, however, hold the party to be unconstitutional. This was the second attempt to ban the party in the German courts.
The NDP’s popularity has plummeted in recent years: in the 2017 parliamentary elections, the party only received 0.1% of the votes, down 1.4% from the 2013 elections