Far-right parties gain in elections in some German states

September 21, 2004|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

FRANKFURT, Germany - A day after far-right parties made striking gains in state elections in eastern Germany, political analysts cautioned against drawing parallels to the rise of nazism during the Weimar Republic.

The spectacle of angry and dispossessed voters turning to the extreme right wing, as they did this past weekend, has an obvious historical echo for Germans. But most experts said these parties would find it difficult to replicate their success in western Germany or on a national level.

The Social Democratic Party of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and the opposition Christian Democrats are more deeply rooted in the west, as is suspicion of such far-right groups as the National Democratic Party of Germany, which won nearly 10 percent of the vote in the eastern state of Saxony.

"This is not a danger for democracy in the Federal Republic," said Hajo Funke, a political scientist at the Free University of Berlin. `'It's an anti-establishment vote, which is still limited to the east."

The success of the National Democrats is no doubt a cause for concern, Funke said, particularly because of their links to skinheads and other violent right-wing gangs.

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