Outrage as neo-Nazi elected town council leader in Germany
Berlin: The unanimous election of a neo-Nazi politician in Germany as the head of a town council, thanks to votes from rival party members, has sparked outrage among senior political figures.
Stefan Jagsch of the far right-wing extremist National Democratic Party (NDP) became the council leader for Waldsiedlung, in the district of Altenstadt, 30 kilometres (18 miles) north-east of Frankfurt, on Thursday.
Jagsch was appointed with help from local members of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), plus opposition groups Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Free Democratic Party (FDP), prompting calls for the decision to be reversed.
"The SPD has a very clear position: we do not co-operate with Nazis! Never!" the party's general secretary Lars Klingbeil tweeted Saturday.
"That applies to federal government, the state and municipalities. The decision in Altenstadt is incomprehensible and cannot be justified. It must be reversed immediately. #noNPD."
Peter Tauber, a CDU member of Germany's lower parliament for Hesse, the state in which Waldsiedlung is located, was equally vocal and threatened action against those who helped Jagsch.
"Whoever lacks the political and moral compass and, as a democrat, makes such an irresponsible election decision can not be accepted in the CDU," Tauber tweeted on Saturday.
"The election of an NPD politician as local leader in Altenstadt with assistance from CDU" members "horrifies me", he added.
The FDP's parliamentary chief Marco Buschmann described Jagsch's election as "doubly bad: firstly that democrats voted for someone like him and secondly, that no democratic candidate was ready to take on the task" of leader.
Regional CDU and SPD leaders in Altenstadt also condemned the decision.
"The election of a member of a party that, according to the Federal Constitutional Court, pursues anti-consitutional goals is incomprehensible and intolerable for the CDU," wrote Sven Mueller-Winter, party chairman for Altenstadt, and regional chair Lucia Puttrich in a joint statement.
They called for the representatives who elected Jagsch to "reconsider, understand and correct their wrong decision." Lisa Gnadl, the district's SPD chief was "completely stunned" that Jagsch was "unanimously elected" with votes from CDU, SPD and FDP members.
"We will therefore have to examine all the consequences," she added.