KARLSRUHE – Germany’s constitutional court began hearings on Tuesday to decide whether to ban the far-right National Democratic Party, with one regional leader saying the party aimed to abolish the country’s democratic system. Germany’s federal states filed a petition in 2013 to outlaw the NPD which the domestic intelligence agency has branded racist and anti-Semitic and which it says contains neo-Nazis among its leaders. Banning a political party is difficult in Germany, a result of the crushing of dissent in the Nazi era and in communist East Germany. A previous attempt to ban the NPD collapsed in 2003. Dietmar Woidke, state premier of the eastern state of Brandenburg, in comments to reporters, said the NPD was striving for the elimination of the “democratic constitutional order”. “It is anti-Semitic, it is xenophobic, and it is one of the intellectual instigators behind the violence, at least indirectly, which we have to deal with in many parts of Germany these days,” he said.