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Germany rejected a bid to ban a neo-Nazi party

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Germany's supreme court rejected an attempt to ban a far-right political party accused of pursuing a racist and anti-Semitic agenda on Tuesday.

Chief Justice Andreas Vosskhule said the party's goals opposed the German constitution, but, "there are currently no concrete indications ... that its actions will lead to success."

Opponents attempted to ban the National Democratic Party (NPD) in 2003, but that attempt was also rejected because paid government informants within the group were partially responsible for evidence against it.

No ban alone would get rid of xenophobia and racism. Society's struggle against far-right extremism isn't something others can do for us.
Heiko Maas, Justice Minister

Justice Minister Heiko Maas said the government respected the verdict, but warned against complacency. 

Vosskhule said the party would need to be actively trying to abolish Germany's democratic order to be banned.

The nationalist Alternative for Germany party has eroded NPD support in recent years, and poses a threat to Chancellor Angela Merkel's re-election campaign. 

In Germany, a party needs five percent of the vote to get a seat in the Bundestag (parliament). NPD had just 1.3 percent of the vote in the most recent national election. 

The NPD celebrated on Facebook, saying it was "fully back in business." 

Has anyone been banned before?

The head of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, condemned the verdict.

"We must never forget how little time it took Hitler and his party to destroy German democracy, to murder 6 million Jews and to plunge the entire European continent into mayhem," he said in a statement.

Only two parties have ever been banned in Germany: the Socialist Reich Party in 1952 and the German Communist Party in 1956.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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