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Published: Friday February 7, 2014 MYT 2:00:02 AM
Updated: Friday February 7, 2014 MYT 2:01:20 AM

Germany's top court to rule on EU vote threshold on February 26

Members of the European Parliament take part in a voting session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, February 5, 2014. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

Members of the European Parliament take part in a voting session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, February 5, 2014. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's top court said it would announce a decision on February 26 on whether parties still needed at least 3 percent of the vote to get into the European Parliament, a ruling that could open the door to more fringe movements in May elections.

A group of small parties had asked the Karlsruhe-based constitutional court to review Germany's existing 3 percent threshold, saying it was unfair and put off potential supporters.

Polls have suggested small groups including eurosceptic Alternative for Germany (AfD) could do well in the European elections and potentially disrupt mainstream political blocs.

AfD already has 4-5 percent support, according to surveys. But other parties that could benefit without the hurdle include the anti-establishment Pirates, Free Voters and the Ecological Democratic Party.

Germany's mainstream parties have long argued electoral thresholds are needed to avoid political fragmentation in parliament of the like that helped bring down the Weimar Republic and made way for the rise of Adolf Hitler.

But the constitutional court already ruled in 2011 that the then 5 percent threshold was void, saying there were not sufficient grounds to justify "the serious interference with equal suffrage and equal opportunities of political parties".

Berlin only reduced the threshold to 3 percent last year.

(Reporting By Sarah Marsh)

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