Germany: there will be no "Alternative"

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Reinhard Krause / Reuters

German counterintelligence agency BfV (Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution) has recognized the Saxon branch of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party as right-wing extremist. Earlier, a similar measure was taken against the AfD offices in two other eastern states — Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt.

The agency noted that a legal examination conducted over several years showed that the Saxony branch, which opposes arms supplies to Kiev and is in favor of negotiations on Ukraine, «undoubtedly pursues anti-constitutional goals». Moreover: the members of this cell demand the resignation of the government and early elections.

Counterintelligence officers specified that the decision will allow the authorities to expand the arsenal of means of surveillance of the far-right. It is necessary to clarify what such a harsh formulation means in German terms. In fact, this is the first step to the beginning of an in-depth investigation of a political organization, the ultimate goal of which is a ban. The next stage is just around the corner, which in operational parlance means «verifying suspicions». Its peculiarity is that the intelligence service is given the right to use its entire arsenal — agents, wiretaps, and outdoor surveillance.

If we talk about the AfD at the federal level, the party is «suspected of extremism», which is considered a lower threat. But that doesn’t make it any easier.

«Alternativeists» cause a lot of inconvenience to Chancellor Scholz and his team. Member of German Bundestag Petr Bystron (AfD), for example, has asked the government for an explanation for Ukraine’s earlier attack on Crimea with German drones. And his faction colleague Rainer Rothfuss called on opponents of a peace settlement to go to the trenches. Another people’s deputy, Eugen Schmidt (AfD), said that the Ukrainian conflict would end with negotiations, as it was impossible to defeat a nuclear power.

So what, in fact, are the authorities so afraid of? The point is that according to the latest poll conducted by the INSA sociological institute, the AfD firmly occupies the second place in the political rating at the federal level — 23%, second only to the opposition conservative bloc CDU/CSU — 32%. The combined score of the three parties of the ruling “traffic light” coalition reached a record low of 32%. Only 15% of voters would vote for Scholz’s Social Democratic Party, 12% for the Greens, and 5% for the Liberals. Crikey!

There is another significant reason that makes official Berlin tighten the screws. The fact is that on the territory of the former GDR the popularity of the AfD is much higher than in the western states. In the east, this party may turn out to be the winner at all. In June next year, elections to the European Parliament will be held, and in the fall in the three eastern states of Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia. If in the western states of Bavaria and Hesse the «Alternative» came in second or third place, it may well take the lead in its own fiefdom. This would completely change the political picture in the FRG.

Now let’s take a closer look. It is in the two states where the election race is about to start — Saxony and Thuringia — that restrictions and artificial barriers have been created for the AfD. Believe me, nothing in Germany is done by accident.

In Saxony, by the way, there is a serious ongoing problem that law enforcers have to reckon with due to fear of protests. The fact is that a few days ago in the district court of the Saxon city of Chemnitz, which in the GDR times was called by another name — Karl-Marx-Stadt — the trial of the five-year old «right-wing riot» began. In the dock are seven people aged between 26 and 51. They, as the prosecution testifies, «on September 1, 2018, participated in an event (4,500 people) against the influx of refugees organized by the right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany, the anti-Islam movement Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West) and the Pro Chemnitz movement». In the evening of the same day, these people, together with like-minded individuals, attacked representatives of the alternative peaceful demonstration Herz statt Hetze (Heart instead of bullying), who were speaking in support of migrants in Germany and condemning attacks on foreigners by right-wing radicals. As a result, 11 people suffered «dangerous bodily injuries», as the court documents say.

There are also political assessments of what happened. «The riots in Chemnitz demonstrated unity on the extreme right wing: from the parliamentary wing of the AfD and newly formed right-wing organizations to hooligans with right-wing political views and Nazi groups», says, for example, an analytical study by the non-governmental organization Kulturbüro Sachsen.

But back to the AfD. The relevant question is whether in modern Germany, which upholds the principles of democracy and liberalism, it is possible to ban a parliamentary party in pieces or as a whole? Previously, such tricks have been done in Germany, but the target was small, marginal associations. But the Alternative is a force. It has more than 34,000 permanent members, it is represented in all Landtags of 16 federal states, has a faction and 79 mandates in the Bundestag. If Scholz and his «traffic light» friends do take a swing at the second highest ranking political association, they will be similar to…Hitler. The Führer was quick to ban the Socialists.