A reader from Germany just wrote me with a caveat that the poll may not be what it seems:
I live in Germany, and the interpretation of the n-tv poll is pretty wide of the mark. Several TV stations here have daily call-in polls that are actually money makers. They are in no way representative.
They appear on the TV text. I check them out rather frequently, and it is obvious that interest groups some times call in just to skew the results. In short, it’s fun to look at the question of the day just to see whether any group is willing to pay good money to make its position look popular.
As to the NPD ban itself, this has been a topic for years. One side says ban them, but the politicians usually argue that as the NPD the members can more easily be kept under observation. A ban would drive them underground, and the government would have to start all over to learn about the leaders, members, and networks.
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There is a neo-Nazi problem here, but it does not affect 49% of the population. In the East, there are many places where the economy is pretty bad since reunification. The NPD actively recruits there.
On the other hand, there is a town in the East where neo-Nazis tried to buy a vacant hotel to use as a conference center. The citizens worked very hard to block the sale, and I believe they eventually raised money to buy it themselves. The neo-Nazis did not win that one.
I am personally more worried about radical leftists, who idealize the GDR and wish for a return of its security or who remember the glory days of RAF terrorism. These are the folks who sympathized with the PLO and still love Che.
They win more sympathy among the people because they know how to use problems like unemployment and globalization to propagate their utopian fantasies. They won’t get a majority, but they can mess up coalition building and hamstring a government by seizing on populist themes.