Neo-Nazi takes seat on Parliament Civil Liberties Committee, Schulz furious (updated)

Neo-Nazi MEP Udo Voigt's place on the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee has sparked international outcry. [Marek Peters/Wikimedia]

European Parliament President Martin Schulz, anti-racism campaigners and Jewish organisations are outraged that a neo-Nazi MEP has taken a seat on the Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee.

Udo Voigt, the former leader of the Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (NPD), has praised Adolf Hitler, was convicted for glorifying the Waffen SS, and infamously claimed “no more than 340,000 Jews” had died in the Holocaust. Historians agree that the total number of Jews exterminated under Hitler was about six million.

Germany’s first far right MEP led the NPD from 1996 to 2011. German intelligence classifies the organisation as a far right extremist party.  There was a failed attempt to ban the party in 2003. Another attempt, arguing its ideology is identical to Hitler’s, is currently in the German courts.

Parliament President Martin Schulz, a member of Germany's Socialist Democratic Party, said, “Everyone who denies the Holocaust and who is against human dignity, democracy and plurality will encounter the strongest of resistance from me.

“The European Parliament is the place where the representatives of the European people work hard to ensure a good and peaceful future for us on our continent. There is no place for racists and anti-Semites in this house.”

The Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee is responsible for the protection of citizens’ rights, human rights, and measures to combat discrimination.

EurActiv asked newly-appointed committee chairman Claude Moraes, a British Indian Labour MEP, for his reaction. He was selected today (7 July) and his response will be published once it is received.

MEPs who, like Voigt, are unattached to any political group are allocated a set number of committee seats to be divided among all independent politicians.  Voigt who planned to nominate Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, did not respond to a request for comment.

European Jewish Congress

A spokesman for the European Jewish Congress said, “It does the European Parliament no credit to have people sitting on its civil liberties committee who have obviously not only shown no commitment to civil liberties, but have sought to undermine them and to purvey a racist and intolerant agenda throughout their political career.

“We call upon members of the civil liberties committee, and indeed all parliamentary groups within the European Parliament, to ensure that Mr Voigt does not get the publicity for his repugnant views that he so clearly seeks at every opportunity.”

Michael Privot, director of the European Network Against Racism, told EurActiv, “We are deeply concerned that an MEP from the German neo-Nazi party NPD, but also a small number of other MEPs propagating xenophobic or racist ideas, laws and policies, will be sitting on the civil liberties committee, taking decisions on the fundamental rights of people living in Europe.

“We hope they will not disrupt and filibuster the work of the committee, and trust that progressive MEPs, including the newly elected Chair Claude Moraes, will ensure that this will not happen.”

The European Conservatives and Reformists Group said it was regrettable that Voigt had been elected at all. 

The spokesman for Nigel Farage’s Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group said, “In a political culture which rejects direct democracy and national self-determination, frustrated people get funnelled towards supporting extremist parties like the NPD.  

“It's very worrying that a rational human being with any knowledge of history would advocate the views of Mr Voigt. Hitler and Nazism were evil in their rejection of natural law, human rights and in their desire for a United European empire. Hitler and his supporters are dangerous people indeed."

Change of election rules in Germany

The NPD gained 1% of Germany's vote in the European elections, 0.3% less than at the general election. After a constitutional court ruling, Germany recently changed rules that meant only parties with 3% of the vote could qualify for European Parliament seats. Without the rule change, Voigt would have lost his seat.

Monika Hohlmeier,from Germany's ruling Christian Democratic Party, is the European People Party's spokeswoman for the civil liberties committee. She called for a pan-European standard on election rules.

She said, "The ruling from the Bundesverfassungsgericht has opened the door to radicals and national socialists. I believe that the consequences of this ruling as well as the way the results are calculated in Germany are highly problematic. It is the time to discuss common standards for European Elections.

"I deeply regret that radicals and lobbyist parties receive a platform in the European Parliament. There is unity amongst democratic parties that there will be no collaboration whatsoever with radicals or nationalists and we will stand up against any form of radicalism, extremism or right-wing nationalism."

Jan Philipp Albrecht is a German green and vice chair of the committee. He said it was unlikely Voigt could influence the legislative process but conceded his presence could lead the public to question the European Parliament.

He said, "I think it is a bit strange to have him on a committee which has powers to fight right wing extremism and to promote anti-discrimination. People may think it is totally inappropriate to have someone like that on the committee but we need to point out that people out there voted for him. That needs to be debated.

"This is a debate that society as a whole needs to have. There are people who are voting for people who hold these beliefs."



an european's picture

AS I SAID on post before ...This is the greatest disgrace in European history lett'em' such parties enter in the EP!
Even in minority!!
Those who killed millions of Jews in concentrations camps by Zykl B and "science research" !
Have we forgotten how we because of such people Europe has suffered!
Hell Yes Die "Nationalen" Gruss Heil .... !
Unanimously i would throw out these people who thinks Hitler was a great "statesmen" letting people influence again!
They aren't only an offend for American or Europeans in General ! No but for the whole World !
Is that's all about reunification ? No ! .....but if it comes to me then i would sign an Federal yes FEDERAL protection Act against such people !
If that were the U.S. Congress immediately would such parties be banned ..with respect!
Don't know what Obama thinks about this all ....

El Pluribus Unum

jamesc's picture

Parliament committee seats are allocated to non-attached MEPs as if they were a parliamentary group. Think he applied for it.

an european's picture

@ Mr Hawker
i really don't know !

As Tony Blair said Europe need a real E.U. President direct elected from E.U. Citizens ! Surprisely Even Farage mentioned it (on this topic)!
But of course - first of all Europe should be protected by an E.U. ACT to DENY the Access of Power to such parties and protect (first) E.U. citizens ant the member-states Itself BEFORE elections!
For me as an European - it is one of the most important pillar for an United Europe against that bunch of War-zones we already had !
At least a Constitution about an European Protection ACT in general is needed and unavoidable because it's in every one's interests to NOT relive theses bad Days again we had !

El Pluribus Unum

Gerry's picture

Udo probably thinks he's made the biggest win in his life. Maybe some people should have a closer look into who he precisely is, what he stands for, how he got there and with whose support, and turn this into the biggest defeat of his career.

an european's picture

@ Gerry
Honestly , Could you agree - even if Voigt thinks he is a "winner" - letting people with such distressing spirit enter in the power of the core of Europe ?
Today we have 1 tomorrow we have 10 and then maybe many more ?
Gerry , do you really think it' this is the solution to get an "out of control" of Neo-Nazi in theses governments (in all) ?

an european's picture

I mean :
Gerry , do you really think it' this is the solution AGAINST an "out of control" of Neo-Nazi in this government or better (in all) ?

Eurochild's picture

Not sure what Schulz is advocating. Is he saying that, despite being voted, Voigt should be banned from the EP, because he is a racist and an anti-Semite? Unfortunately, some Europeans vote for racists and an anti-Semites. Is Schulz arguing that there should be an opinion test for who can and can't take up their seat in the European parliament, with the "standards" laid down by him, regardless of the electoral results?

Besides, isn't Schulz the great believer in democracy? Allowing someone with 1% of the vote nationally a seat in the European parliament (i.e. with a vote in a European context of 0.000001% of the electorate) is democracy! If Schulz doesn't like Vogt's election, then he should complain to the German constitutional court, which absurdly overturned the 3% threshold required for election.

Because, democracy is a much more complex thing than simply voting. Is it democracy to allow even the tiniest parties to be represented in the parliament, meaning we then end up with a fractured debate, gridlock and unstable government coalitions, which undermine the task of democratic government? Especially since the tiniest parties tend to be extremists, magnifying their role in the public sphere only results in polarised politics.

Similarly, democracy in the EU doesn't neccesarily mean the stupid Spitzenkandidaten system, that Schulz tried to push in an effort to catapult himself into the position of Commission president.

Tadeusz's picture

So, does the EP then start to define which political movements can be elegible to stand for election? Presumably, if An European has his/her way, only those with a federast agenda can stand. Anybody who disagrees would not be elegible. Those kinds of institutions (like the failed communist movements) demonstrate quite clearly how weak they are that they cannot win over an electorate just by argument and depth of case/policy. Every electorate has a looney left or right and, in letting them stand and air their views, most sensibly-minded people will know just how looney they are. The real fear is that extremist parties on the left and right attract voters when those voters feel disenfranchised and cheated. You will see just how many there are in Europe when the institutions move further and further towards a United States of Europe. I can just see the German electorate embracing the idea of a Debt Union!!!

an european's picture

My "federast" Agenda ends for an United Europe and not in a weird war zone again!
If you think it's an "legitimate" democracy letting minorities enter in power already know as human killers !
Is that democracy ? IN NO Way !!!

El Pluribus Unum