Move to ban Germany’s AfD may have had opposite effect

AfD @AfD
An AfD poster reacting to the federal government's measures against the party. "We say: Enough!"

A hasty attempt to bar the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party runs the risk of boosting the party’s standing in upcoming German state elections, claims Günter Krings, legal spokesman for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group.

“We must fight the AfD, including its sub-organizations, first and foremost politically and examine very carefully in any banning procedure whether it could do more good than harm to this party, at least in the short term”, Krings, former parliamentary state secretary in the German Interior Ministry, cautioned when recently interviewed by media outlet DPA.

The CDU politician said that the “ever-increasing radicalisation” of AfD’s youth organisation, the “Jungle Alternative” (JA), was disturbing enough to warrant consideration of a possible ban.

However, doing so requires having access to findings by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, information, he noted, which only the federal government is privy to, since it falls within the remit of the intelligence services. A ban was up to the government but would have to await how federal authorities interpreted the intelligence assessment, he said.

Only the Interior Minister can ban an association that operates on a supra-regional level. For example, Interior minister Nancy Faeser of the centre-left SPD banned the neo-Nazi group Hammerskins Deutschland last year.

Just last week, the Cologne Administrative Court turned down an application for interim legal protection by the AfD and JA in an attempt to prevent Germany’s domestic intelligence agency from monitoring the JA as an extremist organization, a decision now the subject of a JA appeal.

In late January, Germany’s Federal Council accepted a “Check AfD ban” petition signed by around 800,000 people. Similar demands have continued to be made at rallies supporting the protection of democracy. and protesting right-wing extremism. The protests follow revelations about a meeting of radical right-wingers in Potsdam in November, which was also attended by AfD politicians plus individual members of the CDU and the conservative Werte Union conservative group.

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