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Wednesday, 16 February 2011


While the NPD in Saxony-Anhalt have their heads in the clouds, their colleagues in Baden-Württemberg are having a hard time mustering enough people on the ground. The NPD in the state is suffering from mobilization problems: The far-right party has to collect 150 valid signatures in each election district in order to be allowed to field their own candidates in the state parliamentary election on March 27. In December, Janus Nowak, a local party official from the town of Böblingen, wrote an e-mail with "ALARM" in its subject line. In the e-mail, he reported that, despite months of trying, party members were "apparently incapable" of even "getting merely a single signature per day." In order to increase the yield, the NPD official provided the would-be signature-gatherers with detailed suggestions on how they "could address people on the street and be successful." For example, he suggested that every pitch should begin with the words: "Hello, I'm not trying to sell anything. No vacuum cleaners or washing machines or anything." Once they had gotten that far, campaign workers were instructed to make sure "to look people in the eye," rather than looking at their clipboards, and to avoid saying anything too "complicated." The most important piece of advice regarded what came last: "Say 'Thank you' and don't talk too much." The idea of deploying professional signature collectors, such as an "NPD organizational wizard" from the town of Völklingen, was even considered. But the man in question appeared to lack selfless dedication to the party. Instead, as Nowak complained in an e-mail, he asked for "€1,000 a week" in addition to "meals + additional helpers + information kiosks + accommodation." Nowak also declined to comment on the e-mail exchanges.

'Capitalist' Scheme

Rudolf Schützinger, a member of the NPD's executive committee in Baden-Württemberg, also gave some thought to how to increase the number of signatures being collected. He suggested paying €1 to "each collector who turns in an acceptable, unauthenticated signature" and €2 for every authenticated signature. Schützinger also had another idea up his sleeve: attracting campaign donors with a sort of "profit-sharing" scheme. He suggested that, if the party succeeded in winning more than 1 percent of the vote, donors would get their "entire donation back within a set time frame + 30 percent." But, if the NPD could "not master" the 1 percent hurdle, donors would get back half of their contribution, while still being able to write the donation off against their taxes. In doing so, they would "have a loss of only 25%." According to Schützinger, this scenario offered the advantage that the party would not have to assume any "financial risk," while at the same time motivating "the gamblers among our sympathizers" to make donations. In an e-mail, the NPD official admitted that the scheme had "a capitalist aftertaste" and noted that it would need "legal validation" as far as party finance laws were concerned. In the end, the idea was apparently rejected. Schützinger also chose not to respond to SPIEGEL's inquiries.

Threat of Legal Action
NPD spokesman Klaus Beier has threatened legal action in response to the publication of the emails. According to Beier, the "e-mail traffic between both party officials and party members, which used encryption technology (was) copied in breach of (Germany's) communication secrecy law" and that "the texts, whose content was probably manipulated" were "provided to the compliant journalists." On Saturday, the news agency DPA reported that the NPD had filed a criminal complaint over the publication of the e-mails. In any case, Beier refused to say anything about who was behind the data leak or how it came about. He did say, however, that one had to assume that "the system has far-reaching means at its disposal for reading all of the NPD's e-mail communication." Beier's remarks are reminiscent of the stance that the party took back in 2008, when SPIEGEL published an earlier collection of internal NPD e-mails.