World Bulletin/News Desk
Germany's top court scrapped a rule that said political parties need at least three percent of the vote to enter the European Parliament, opening the door to more fringe movements winning seats in a May 25 election.
The government lowered the threshold to 3 percent last year from 5 percent, but the Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday this was unconstitutional and abolished the hurdle altogether, saying it infringed parties' right to equal opportunities.
A group of small parties had asked the court to review the 3 percent barrier, saying it was unfair and put off potential supporters. The judges agreed, arguing that each voter must have the same right to determine the composition of the European Parliament.
Polls have suggested Eurosceptical and fringe groups, including the Alternative for Germany (AfD), could poll well in many countries in the European elections and potentially disrupt the mainstream political blocs.
Polls credit AfD with 4-5 percent support. Other parties that could benefit without the hurdle include the anti-establishment Pirates, Free Voters and the Ecological Democratic Party.
Germany will elect 96 lawmakers to the European Parliament, the largest national contingent.
The mainstream parties have long argued that electoral thresholds are needed to avoid political fragmentation in parliament of the kind that helped bring down the Weimar Republic and made way for the rise of Adolf Hitler.
National voting systems for the European Parliament differ across the 28 member states. Most countries, including Britain, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands have no threshold.
Eight nations have a 5 percent threshold - the maximum threshold allowed under EU law - including the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania.Last Mod: 26 Şubat 2014, 11:27