Outrage as neo-Nazi elected town council leader in Germany

Stefan Jagsch of the far right-wing extremist National Democratic Party (NDP) poses in Altenstadt-Waldsiedlung, on September 8, 2019; the election of a neo-Nazi politician in Germany as head of a town council has sparked outrage (AFP Photo/Andreas Arnold) (dpa/AFP)

Berlin (AFP) - The unanimous election of a neo-Nazi politician in Germany as the head of a town council has sparked outrage among senior political figures and calls to have the decision reversed.

A political storm is brewing after Stefan Jagsch of the far right-wing extremist National Democratic Party (NDP) became council leader for the small town of Waldsiedlung, in the district of Altenstadt, 30 kilometres (18 miles) north-east of Frankfurt, on Thursday.

Around 2,500 people live in Waldsiedlung.

On his Facebook page, Jagsch said he will "support the interests of our district" to "work constructively with everyone and across parties," adding "from the people, for the people!".

Local reports say he was appointed by seven council members including representatives from German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), plus junior coalition member Social Democratic Party (SPD) and business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP).

Jagsch was elected because there was no alternative candidate, "the NPD candidate filled the vacuum," Markus Brando, SPD chairman for Altenstadt admitted to local paper Merkur.

Jagsch's main task will be to lead the council in all important matters concerning the local district.

By Sunday, there were outraged calls from across Germany for the decision to be reversed.

- 'Nazis! Never!' -

"The SPD has a very clear position: we do not co-operate with Nazis! Never!" the party's general secretary Lars Klingbeil tweeted Saturday.

"That applies to federal government, the state and municipalities.

"The decision in Altenstadt is incomprehensible and cannot be justified.

"It must be reversed immediately. #noNPD."

The CDU's general secretary Paul Ziemiak also demanded the decision be overturned.

"I'm shocked. The election of a member of a party which pursues anti-constitutional goals is a disgrace," Ziemiak told Monday's edition of Bild.

"I expect this decision to be corrected."

Peter Tauber, a CDU member of Germany's lower parliament for Hesse, the state in which Waldsiedlung is located, threatened action against those who elected Jagsch.

"Whoever lacks the political and moral compass and, as a democrat, makes such an irresponsible election decision can not be accepted in the CDU," Tauber tweeted on Saturday.

"The election of an NPD politician as local leader in Altenstadt with assistance from CDU" members "horrifies me," he added.

The FDP's parliamentary chief Marco Buschmann described Jagsch's election as "doubly bad: firstly that democrats voted for someone like him and secondly, that no democratic candidate was ready to take on the task" of leader.

Regional CDU and SPD leaders in Altenstadt also condemned the decision.

"The election of a member of a party that, according to the Federal Constitutional Court, pursues anti-consitutional goals is incomprehensible and intolerable for the CDU," wrote Sven Mueller-Winter, party chairman for Altenstadt, and regional chair Lucia Puttrich in a joint statement.

They called for the representatives who elected Jagsch to "reconsider, understand and correct their wrong decision."

Lisa Gnadl, the district's SPD chief was "completely stunned" that Jagsch was "unanimously elected" with votes from CDU, SPD and FDP representatives.

"We will therefore have to examine all the consequences," she added.