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Repression and reaction: militant democracy and the radical right in Germany and France

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Minkenberg tackles a variety of issues in the debate about state repression and examines them in relation to the contemporary radical right in western democracies, particularly Germany and France. He addresses concepts developed mostly in research studies of movements, and reviews more theoretical accounts in an attempt to advance an analytic framework for examining the effects of repression on the radical right. Does the application of state repression have the desired effect on the radical right? Or is state repression rather counter-productive and, if so, under what circumstances? Minkenberg attempts to provide a tentative answer as to whether state repression reduces radical right-wing mobilization (as some have argued) or provokes resistance and a sense of solidarity that undercuts the intended effects (as others have suggested). The case of the German Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (and the failure of an attempt to ban it)—which provides evidence both of the organizational and strategic flexibility of the non-party radical right and of ghetto-formation and a hardening of ideology—raises serious questions about the usefulness of state repression against the radical right. It seems that the damage to democracy outweighs the benefits of state control, particularly when the fight against the radical right is limited to the institutional level of ‘militant democracy'. Instead, alternatives within civil society need to be strengthened both because they can affect the radical right on their own and because they can ‘embed' state action and thereby render it more effective.

Keywords: France; Germany; Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands; militant democracy; party ban; radical right; state repression

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2006-02-01

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