Udo Voigt

Udo Voigt is the former Chair of the NPD and currently sits in the European parliament for the party. He reportedly still wields considerable influence within the NPD and is suspected to have ambitions to resume leadership. Christin Hebel, Johannes Korge, “Comeback-Gerüchte: Voigts Machtspiele erschüttern die NPD,” Der Spiegel, February 25, 2013, http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/comeback-geruechte-voigts-machtkampf-erschuettert-die-npd-a-884975.html. Voigt is seen by the intelligence services as a potentially dangerous force, as under his leadership the NPD opened itself to more radical forces. Christin Hebel, Johannes Korge, “Comeback-Gerüchte: Voigts Machtspiele erschüttern die NPD,” Der Spiegel, February 25, 2013, http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/comeback-geruechte-voigts-machtkampf-erschuettert-die-npd-a-884975.html. Voigt has previously advocated racist and Nazi glorifying views although he denies this characterization. Michelle Martin, “German party accused of neo-Nazi traits set for EU parliament,” Reuters, Wednesday 21, 2014, http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/05/21/uk-eu-election-germany-neonazis-idUKKBN0E112M20140521.

Voigt reportedly joined the NPD in 1968. He originally trained as an aerospace metal worker before joining the army. However, he was not allowed to become an officer because of his membership of the NPD. Instead he studied political science and went on to train at an NPD center in Italy. Michelle Martin, “German party accused of neo-Nazi traits set for EU parliament,” Reuters, Wednesday 21, 2014, http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/05/21/uk-eu-election-germany-neonazis-idUKKBN0E112M20140521.

Voigt became Chair of the NPD in May 1996 and began to open the NPD to militant (younger) neo-Nazis, which have since taken important positions within the party (such as for example Jens Pühse, who now serves as the NPD’s General Secretary). http://www.npd.de/html/3471/artikel/parteivorstand/; Armin Pfahl-Traughber, “Der „zweite Frühling” der NPD”, (Berlin: Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, 2008), 24, http://www.kas.de/wf/doc/kas_14498-544-1-30.pdf.

While membership numbers rose under Voigt’s leadership, Armin Pfahl-Traughber, “Der „zweite Frühling” der NPD”, (Berlin: Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, 2008), 24, http://www.kas.de/wf/doc/kas_14498-544-1-30.pdf. electoral defeats and the feeling that there was a lack of strategy weakened Voigt’s position as party Chair. Following a power struggle against his former ‘political apprentice’ Holger Apfel, Voigt was defeated in an election over the chairmanship during the NPD’s party conference in November 2011. “Apfel als neuer NPD-Chef,” Die Zeit, November 15, 2011, http://blog.zeit.de/stoerungsmelder/2011/11/15/apfel-als-neuer-npd-chef_7507.

Under Apfel, the NPD faced a looming potential resumption of banning procedures, declining membership numbers and a difficult financial situation. Following a two year break from the party, Voigt re-emerged and apparently attempted to position himself as a possible alternative to Apfel. A number of “supporter groups” were formed to assist Voigt. Voigt also apparently increased attacks on the NPD leadership.Christin Hebel, Johannes Korge, “Comeback-Gerüchte: Voigts Machtspiele erschüttern die NPD,” Der Spiegel, February 25, 2013, http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/comeback-geruechte-voigts-machtkampf-erschuettert-die-npd-a-884975.html.

In January 2014, Voigt was elected the NPD’s candidate for the 2014 European parliamentary elections, successfully asserting himself over the managing Chair of the NPD Udo Pastörs. Christina Hebel, “NPD-Parteitag in Thüringen: Voigt setzt sich als Europa-Spitzenkandidat durch,” Der Spiegel, January 19, 2014, http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/npd-parteitag-voigt-setzt-sich-als-europa-spitzenkandidat-durch-a-944305.html. Voigt was elected to the European parliament in May 2014.

Voigt appears to be interested in building stronger links with far-right groups across Europe and has expressed an interest in working with Jobbik, Greece's Golden Dawn, the British National Party and Bulgaria's Attack. Michelle Martin, “German party accused of neo-Nazi traits set for EU parliament,” Reuters, Wednesday 21, 2014, http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/05/21/uk-eu-election-germany-neonazis-idUKKBN0E112M20140521. Voigt was elected to the European parliament in May 2014.

 
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