Senior politicians in Germany’s ruling parties have voiced anger at the election of a neo-Nazi as mayor of a town in the central state of Hesse.
Stefan Jagsch of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) was elected unanimously by seven councillors in Waldsiedlung, near Frankfurt am Main.
Mr Jagsch won because no rival stood against him. The small town has about 2,650 residents.
The NPD has survived efforts to ban it, but is seen as “anti-constitutional”.
Local councillors representing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), its governing partner the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), and the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) all voted for Mr Jagsch.
“The NPD candidate filled the vacuum,” said Markus Brando, the SPD leader in Altenstadt, which encompasses Waldsiedlung.
But senior party members have condemned the move, with CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer calling for the election to be cancelled. Its secretary-general, Paul Ziemiak, said “the election of a member of a party which pursues anti-constitutional goals is a disgrace”.
SPD Secretary-General Lars Klingbeil tweeted his outrage too: “The SPD has a very clear position: We don’t co-operate with Nazis! Never! That goes for the federal level, regions and districts. The decision in #Altenstadt is incomprehensible and unjustifiable. It must be reversed immediately.”
Mr Jagsch has promised to “work for the interests of the town and continue to work constructively and across parties”.
The main far-right opposition party in Germany is the Alternative for Germany (AfD). The NPD is much smaller and has only won seats in regional assemblies.
In 2017 the German Constitutional Court ruled against a ban on the NPD, saying the party was “anti-constitutional” but did not appear capable of overturning Germany’s democratic order.
Watch a report on far-right intimidation in Berlin and resistance to it: