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Germany's President has the right to call neo-Nazi party members 'loonies', says court

Published on Jun 10, 2014 10:05 PM
 
This photo taken on May 6, 2013, shows German President Joachim Gauck at his desk at the Bellevue presidential palace in Berlin. Germany's President Joachim Gauck has the right to call members of a neo-Nazi party "loonies", the country's top court ruled on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN (AFP) - Germany's President Joachim Gauck has the right to call members of a neo-Nazi party "loonies", the country's top court ruled on Tuesday.

The Federal Constitutional Court dismissed a complaint by the far-right, anti-immigrant National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) against the remark last August by the largely ceremonial head of state.

The fringe party had argued that the President, whose job is to serve as a kind of national moral arbiter and represent Germany abroad, is supposed to stay neutral on day-to-day party politics.

But the court in its ruling gave the President a wide berth for how he performs his functions and what issues he chooses to address. "Specific statements by the Federal President can only be objected to before the courts if the Federal President takes sides in a way that clearly neglects the integrative task of his office, and thus takes sides in an arbitrary manner," it said in a statement. "This was not the case here."

 
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