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April 17, 2014

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German court nixes 3 percent hurdle for EU vote

Updated Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 | 1:37 a.m.

BERLIN (AP) — Germany's top court says requiring parties to win at least 3 percent of the vote to get into the European Parliament is unconstitutional, raising the likelihood extremists could win seats.

The Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe said Wednesday the 3 percent hurdle was a "serious infringement" of parties' rights to be treated equally.

The decision means smaller parties, such as Germany's far-right National Democratic Party, could win seats in May's European Parliament elections.

Larger parties had argued the threshold prevents an unwieldy number of different fractions in parliament.

There is a 5 percent threshold for elections to Germany's national parliament, a result of the country's experience during the Weimar Republic when a wide range of parties failed to prevent Adolf Hitler coming to power.