Stefan Jagsch of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) – deemed to be an overtly neo-Nazi formation – has been elected a town council chairman in the German province of Hesse in a development that has shocked Germany’s mainstream political parties.
In the past few years, it has been the surging far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party that has attracted major public attention, including with its recent strong showing in two former East Germany provinces.
The NPD, however, is one of the best known far-right parties in Germany and is known to have neo-Nazi affiliations.
Back in 2017, the German Constitutional Court even ruled that the NPD’s aims violated the country’s constitution. While it decided, however, that there were no grounds to ban the party, the German government has attempted to cut off the formations state funding.
The NPD’s Stefan Jagsch was unanimously elected town council head in the small town Altenstadt-Waldsiedlung, in Hesse, central Germany, DW reported.
The election occurred on Thursday, with the approval of all seven council members, including representatives of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), and the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP).
High-profile members of Germany’s mainstream parties reacted subsequently by denouncing Jagsch’s election as town council leader in Altenstadt-Waldsiedlung.
“Intolerable and completely unacceptable! This is completely incompatible with the basic values of the SPD! This damages the reputation of social democracy!” tweeted SPD deputy leader Ralf Stegner as the news was confirmed on Saturday.
Altenstadt’s SPD leader Markus Brando was quoted as sayng those at the meeting had been forced to elect Jagsch because there were no alternative candidates. He said he had called a special party meeting to find an explanation.
In a joint statement, two CDU leaders in Hesse declared their “shock and absolute lack of understanding” at Jagsch’s election, and demanded that this “wrong decision” be corrected.
Jens Jacobi, chairman of the local FDP, also expressed his party’s shock at the development, while emphasizing that the FDP representatives of the town council in question had joined the party’s candidate list as independents, and were not party members.
The NDP’s Jagsch confirmed his election on his Facebook page, while promising to “work for the interests of the town and continue to work constructively and across parties.”
In a Facebook photo, Jagsch can be seen holding up a banner, reading “They say migration and they mean genocide,” during a 2018 demonstration against the UN Migration Pact.
In 2016, Jagsch made headlines when he got seriously injured in a car accident, and got first aid from a group of Syrian asylum seekers.