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German Jewish leaders have called right-wing extremist gains in German state elections this week "alarming."
On Sunday, voters in the former East German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania gave the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany 7.3 percent, more than the 5% necessary to have a seat in the state parliament.
The state becomes the fourth to have right-wing extremist parties in a local parliament in reunified Germany. Many observers say that high unemployment in eastern states plays a role in turning voters to the right. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the home of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has an unemployment rate of 18.2%.
Charlotte Knobloch, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, called the results "shocking, and a political statement of bankruptcy." She urged mainstream politicians to "go on a committed offensive against increasing right-wing extremism." In a statement issued Monday, she said all supporters of democracy must be alarmed by right-wing gains in broad areas of the northeastern state.
Salomon Korn, a vice president of the Central Council, called NPD's campaign tactics "devastating." "It has become clear," he said in the statement, "that the 'brown troops' are no longer even refraining from massive physical violence, threats and intimidation." Said Dieter Graumann, another Central Council vice president: "Anyone who now fails to deal decisively with this problem can spare the maudlin speeches about how shocked they are.
" It's important not to just state what is not permitted in the fight against right-wing extremism, but to once and for all go on the offensive against it, on every political level - including legal means, such as attempting to ban them - instead of setting them aside too quickly."