A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Germany top court finds EU voting threshold unconstitutional

Germany's Karlsruhe court [official website, in German] ruled on Wednesday that the 3% voting threshold for political parties to enter the the European Parliament [official website] is unconstitutional. The German government lowered the voting threshold from 5% to 3% last year, but the top court ruled [BBC report] by a 5-3 vote that it should be abolished altogether. The ruling will allow smaller parties like the far-right Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), Free Voters, Pirates and Ecological Democratic Party to obtain seats in the May 2014 election. Most countries in the European Union (EU) [official website] do not have a voting threshold in place, but eight member states retain a threshold. The court reasoned that the threshold was no longer necessary in order to preserve the European Parliament's ability to function. If there had been no threshold in the last election, the far-right NPD would have gained a seat in the European elections. NPD has been accused of promoting neo-Nazi ideals [JURIST report].

Besides Germany, several countries have faced issues dealing with neo-Nazi movements and propaganda. In 2013 an Austrian court convicted [JURIST report] three neo-Nazis of glorifying Nazism over the Internet, sentencing them to as many as nine years in prison. In June 2011 the Supreme Court of Spain [official website, in Spanish] overturned [JURIST report] the convictions of four individuals charged with distributing neo-Nazi propaganda, reasoning that disseminating Nazi ideology is not a crime unless used to incite violence or certain danger, or create a hostile climate. In July 2010 a Russian court sentenced [JURIST report] 14 neo-Nazis, including a group leader and several teenagers, to jail terms for committing hate crimes against ethnic minorities in the country. Also in 2010 a criminal court in France convicted [JURIST report] 14 members of a neo-Nazi group.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.