German Court Rules AfD as a Suspected Right-Wing Extremist Organization

The Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia upheld a designation by Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) labeling the controversial political party, the Alternativ fur Deutschland (AfD), as a suspected right-wing extremist organization on Monday.

Results from Months of Appeal:

The ruling follows a months-long process by the AfD to appeal the classification, with the party’s lawyers claiming judges put in charge of the case have been biased against the party. The party began the proceedings to appeal this designation in mid-March, ahead of Germany’s general election and European elections, which are set to take place in June.

This designation followed an investigation conducted by the BfV into the AfD, which found that the party had become “increasingly radicalized.” Regional arms of the AfD had already faced this classification, with chapters in Thuringia, Saxony, and Saxony-Anhalt being labeled as official extremist organizations.


The headquarters of the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. (Photo – Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz)

While the AfD has not been labeled a confirmed right-wing extremist group, the BfV may take motions to label the political party as such. Such a move would have to enter new court proceedings, however, granting the AfD another chance to fight against the designation.

“The court finds there is sufficient evidence that the AfD pursues goals that run against the human dignity of certain groups and against democracy,” the judges stated. “There are grounds to suspect at least part of the party wants to accord second-rank status to German citizens with a migration background.”

The designation as a suspected right-wing extremist group allows German authorities to enact additional surveillance measures against the AfD. Such measures include recruiting undercover agents, utilizing informants, and using wiretaps in their investigations against the party.

A Classification Prior to Elections:

The classification comes amid the upcoming European Union elections, which are slated for June 9th, with some claiming that the AfD sought to delay the final ruling until after the election in order to secure further votes in western Germany, where the party lacks support. These claims were in regards to the AfD’s lawyers requesting 457 new pieces of evidence prior to the hearing, more than double the original 200 in March when the case was arranged.

The ruling also follows a recent controversy regarding a meeting in November that was attended by two party members regarding the “remigration” of those “unassimilated” to German culture to their home countries or a newly created state in North Africa, whether they held German passports or not. The meeting, which was leaked by Correctiv, a German investigative journalism outlet, consisted of two members of the AfD, “neo-nazis,” and a number of other political activists.

“Unassimilated citizens like Islamists, gangsters, and welfare cheats should be pushed to adapt through a policy of standards and assimilation,” Martin Sellner, the leader of Austria’s Identitarian Movement and the one who proposed the policy, stated after the meeting was leaked.


Martin Sellner speaking at a political rally. (Photo – Herbert Oczeret/APA)

The AfD officially denounced the claims that the party plans to enforce this “remigration” policy, with one of the party’s leaders, Alice Weidel, stating that “The AfD won’t change its position on immigration policy because of a single opinion at a non-AfD meeting.” Sellner himself was banned from entering Germany for three years following the exposure of the meeting.

Analysis:

The classification will be a hurdle for the party, as the court has designated the party as a suspected right-wing extremist organization nationally, allowing authorities to monitor chapters across the country in their investigations.

It remains uncertain how the ruling will affect the AfD, as the party has held higher approval in polls than that of the ruling Social Democrats (SPD). The AfD currently stands at 18%, while the SPD has only managed to gain 16% of the polls, according to Politico.

Furthermore, the increasing pressure on the AfD has led some to suggest outright banning the populist party, although such a ban would have to undergo an extensive court case and investigation by authorities.

In order to ban a political party in Germany, a case would have to first be requested by either the Bundestag (the German federal governing body) or the Bundesrat (the federal representation of the sixteen German states). The BfV would then have to prove that the AfD actively seeks to end the democratic process in Germany.


A poster depicting Alexander Gauland and Alice Weidel, dual leaders of the AfD. (Photo – ABC News)

“At this point, a procedure to ban the party would still have to identify an element that is actively militant, in other words, that acts according to a plan,” the President of the Thuringian BfV, Stephan Kramer, stated. “For this to happen, it is not necessary that any crimes have been committed.”

Others have condemned this idea, with some claiming such a ban would only further the party’s support, especially due to the AfD’s claims that they are the target of a concerted government effort to remove an opposition party from running for office.

“The establishment of this state—and that includes the BfV and the media—is being used to exclude us from democratic competition,” Weidel stated following the ruling.

“You can’t simply ban a party that gets 20–30 percent approval,” Volker Boehme-Nessler, a political scientist, told the eastern German broadcaster MDR, which broadcasts for the federal states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and most notably Thuringia, where the party has achieved most of its success.

Trent Barr
Trent Barr
Trent Barr is an Intelligence Analyst for Atlas News. He has over ten years of experience and is trained in open source intelligence gathering. Trent Barr specializes in Latin American, German, and Vatican affairs while also holding an interest in Europe as a whole.

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