On the Right-Wing Fringe

PUSHING Nazism is specifically outlawed in West Germany, and the government has the power to ban any party it thinks is too extreme. The most recent case was in February, when the neo-Nazi National Assembly was raided and banned. But there are three small, well-established West German parties that manage to operate on the fringes of the right wing - under the watchful gaze of West German authorities:

National Democratic Party: Founded in the 1960s, this is the oldest of the far-right parties now enjoying a surge in West Germany. Based in Stuttgart, the National Democrats snared double-digit victories in conservative pockets of southern Germany during the 1960s, but fell into obscurity during the 1970s.

German People's Union: Gerhard Frey, a Munich publisher, launched this group in 1971 - when he decided the National Democrats were going soft. Mr. Frey's National Zeitung routinely glorifies the Third Reich and challenges historical accounts of Nazi war crimes. The party is pouring more than $6 million into the June elections for the European Parliament - which includes sending its campaign materials to every household in West Germany.

Republican Party: Launched in 1983, the Republicans are the newest - but fastest growing - group on the far right. The Republicans, headed by Franz Sch"onhuber, a former Bavarian television personality, go to great lengths to distance themselves from other right-wing parties. Mr. Sch"ohuber, for instance, has vowed never to form a coalition with either the NDP or the German People's Union.

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