German court finds AfD as a potentially extremist party

AfD @AfD
An AfD poster promoting "Remigration".

On Monday, a German high court ruled that the domestic intelligence agency was justified in monitoring the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party for suspected extremism. The party could continue to be treated as a potentially extremist party. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) has classified the AfD as potentially extreme since 2021. The court has upheld the BfV’s decision, ruling that it retains the right to keep the party under surveillance. The judges at the higher administrative court in Muenster agreed with the lower court’s 2022 finding that the designation was proportionate and did not violate any laws. 

The judges wrote, “There are grounds to suspect that at least some party members want to give second-rank status to German citizens with a migration background.”

AfD is leading in several eastern states, particularly in the former part of East Germany, where the most extremist elements exist. State parliaments in Saxony, Thuringia, and Brandenburg will hold elections later this year, with Saxony and Thuringia set to vote on September 1 and Brandenburg on September 22. The results of these elections will also impact the political climate in Austria’s parliamentary elections in the fall, as the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), which shares the same ideology as the AfD, is currently leading in the polls.

The far-right party AfD has recently come under increased scrutiny due to racist remarks made by some of its members. In January, a secret meeting was held in Potsdam between key members of the party and neo-Nazi groups, which caused widespread outrage in Germany. Thousands of citizens protested against the AfD, as the meeting aimed to discuss a new plan called “Remigration”, which was reminiscent of the Nazi pogroms. After assessing their integration into German culture, the plan involved transferring “unassimilated German citizens” of foreign origin to North Africa. 

Following the scandal, popular support for the party dropped. Additionally, Marine Le Pen, AfD’s most crucial ally, criticised the party’s “Remigration” position, asked for leadership explanations, and said she considered dissolving the Identity and Democracy Group at the European Parliament after the June elections.

AfD is also facing allegations of harbouring spies and agents for China and Russia. The party’s top candidate for the European Parliament elections, Maximilian Krah, is under scrutiny after his assistant, Jian Guo, was arrested last month on suspicion of spying for China. German prosecutors have ordered the offices of Krah and Guo in Brussels to be searched based on orders issued by the investigating German judge and a European investigation order. Furthermore, the news magazine Der Spiegel and public broadcaster ZDF have reported that the FBI questioned Krah in December regarding possible payments from pro-Russian sources. Krah denied receiving such payments and called the investigation a mere supposition. Petr Bystron, the second candidate on the AfD’s list for the European election, has also denied allegations of receiving money from a pro-Russian network.

AfD strongly rejects the court’s ruling

The chances of AfD’s challenge of the lower court’s ruling succeeding were minimal. The party spent hours of court time making lengthy submissions, demanding to summon senior government officials as witnesses, but failed to present any fresh evidence. Thus, experts suggested that the court challenge was part of the party’s communications strategy and plan to disrupt the institutions of the state rather than a legal strategy.

“Today’s ruling shows that we are a democracy that can be defended, said Federal Minister of the Interior and Home Affairs Nancy Faeser. She added that the German state has the tools to protect democracy from threats from within.

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) has firmly rejected the designation and described it as a political attempt to discredit the party. In a statement, the AfD said that the court had supported some of its criticisms of the BfV without providing any specifics and indicated that it would contest the decision.

“The Higher Administrative Court in #Münster rejected the appeal against “the #Hochstufung of the AfD by the Federal Office for #Verfassungsschutz (BfV) after a very short hearing. In the oral reasons for the judgment, AfD posted its statement on the X platform.

In addition, Roman Reusch, a member of the AfD federal executive board, posted on X that “It is incomprehensible that the Senate did not allow the appeal, even though we debated complex legal issues for days. We will, of course, appeal to the next instance!

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