Slap in the face for the protection of the constitution: easy game for AfD

Dhe AfD has an easy time of making the decision of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution to observe the party appear to be inadmissible discrimination. Especially after the slap in the face on Friday (it is not the first) by the Cologne administrative court. The Federal Office was particularly cautious. First of all, the “wing” was targeted, although it was difficult to distinguish it from the party as a whole. The second step is now all the more difficult because the AfD had planned against it, in terms of personnel, programmatically and legally.

The establishment of a suspicious situation, the evidence of which does not look much different today than it did months ago, now falls in a super election year. In fact, it may all be well founded and overdue. Still, something like that is called bad timing.

After the AfD filed a precautionary complaint against observation in January, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution was ready to “stand still”. The decision to observe the AfD was nevertheless made and, who is surprised, made it public. The court’s expectation that the observation of the largest opposition party in the country would remain a secret is not very realistic.

The Office for the Protection of the Constitution could have waited until the lawsuit had been decided. The office and the Federal Minister of the Interior are suspected of wanting to break the matter over their knees in order to dispute the AfD percentages. But that’s not what the protection of the constitution is there for.

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AfD brakes for the rich (daily newspaper Junge Welt)

Thomas Trutschel/photothek.net/imago

So far, the far right has posed as a representative of the interests of German craftsmen and small business owners, but now it is openly committed to the super-rich

An example happened on Thursday in the Bundestag: The AfD, which appears primarily as the avenger of the widows and orphans of the German middle class, praised the so-called debt brake, the money pump anchored in the Basic Law to enrich the richest, and requested that the Federal Constitutional Court review the federal budget in 2021 allow. In it, the clause was suspended with reference to the pandemic. Most of the factions were impressed, the fundamental opposition came from the party Die Linke alone.

The entry into the plenary debate was provided by the AfD parliamentary group leader Alice Weidel, who is sponsored by the super-rich from Switzerland. She fantasized about an economic crisis caused by the measures to combat the pandemic: the “collateral damage” would grow “immeasurably”. She did not speak of capital and its crisis. The budget politician of her parliamentary group, Peter Boehringer, followed his boss and claimed: “There is still no health emergency.” The health system was “never overloaded”, but an “economic crisis” was caused by a “debt orgy”. The “united bloc parties” wanted to remove the “debt brake” in order to subsequently increase taxes.

The slap was reminiscent of John Heartfield’s photo montage “Millions stand behind me” from 1932. That could be passed over with silence if the FDP, CDU and CSU did not see the matter in a similar way to the far right: The German billionaires can only be saved if they do The debt brake remains. Your speakers just didn’t want to go to Karlsruhe right away. The Greens hastily declared that they did not want to abolish the debt brake. However, it must be supplemented by a regulation on necessary investments. In a similarly tame way, the SPD budget politician Dennis Rohde added: Insisting on the debt brake in these times would mean abolishing short-time working allowances and abolishing corporate aid.

Clear text came only from the budgetary spokeswoman for the left-wing parliamentary group, Gesine Lötzsch: She called the debt brake a historical mistake that triggered an investment crisis. The result is a lack of day-care centers, the poor condition of many schools, a lack of university places and affordable housing. Lötzsch asked who would have to pay the bill in view of the fact that no other party wanted to tax large fortunes and the rich. She was the only speaker to praise Chancellery Minister Helge Braun (CDU), who at the end of January had proposed in a newspaper article that the debt brake should also be suspended in the coming years, but was immediately dismissed by the economic wing of the Union.

The debt brake allows only minimal federal debt of up to 0.35 percent of gross domestic product. The Bundestag can only make an exception in emergencies, such as natural disasters or exceptional emergency situations. In practice, this meant that spending on education, health and social affairs was cut and more and more state tasks were privatized. The consequences so far have always been higher costs. Germany’s super-rich, who make up about 1 percent of the population but have 38 percent of total wealth, were the main beneficiaries. Now the AfD is openly committed to them.

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Infections are increasing due to the lateral thinker demo

Dhe protest actions against the corona measures of the federal and state governments have contributed to the spread of the corona virus. This is the result of a study by the Center for European Economic Research. In order to arrive at this conclusion, the economists Martin Lange and Ole Monscheuer (Humboldt University Berlin) compared the seven-day incidences from counties in which a specialized bus company (“Honk for Hope”) accepted participants in a large demonstration in Leipzig and those in which this did not happen.

Philipp Krohn

Editor in business, responsible for “People and Business”.

In districts with a bus tour operator’s stop, the infection rate at the end of last year was 35.9 percent higher than in districts where there were no demonstrators. The two researchers then included other factors such as the AfD’s most recent European election result, whose elected representatives have publicly questioned the risk of Corona, and the rate of children who received a measles vaccination. They wanted to investigate further causes for careless behavior in the pandemic. The three factors are strongly correlated with each other.

The analysis by ZEW and Humboldt University is, according to their own information, the first to quantify the effects of the demonstrations on the infection process. The conflict of goals between the restriction of rights of freedom and health policy measures to protect against infection is made scientifically tangible in this way.

Those who do not wear a mask are at risk for others

If, for example, people do not wear mouth and nose protection or do not adhere to the distance rules, this could have major consequences for public health. ZEW scientist and co-author of the study, Martin Lange, emphasized in a communication that a mobile minority that does not adhere to the applicable hygiene rules is putting other people at risk.

Counties with a higher rate of vaccinated children had a lower corona infection rate. The increase in infections can be dated around ten days after the demonstration in Leipzig. This time interval matches the average incubation time with the virus. Afterwards, the rate in the respective district increased further. The climbs were particularly high in small towns with a “Honk for Hope” bus station.

According to the two scientists’ model calculation, a total of 16,000 to 21,000 new infections could have been prevented if two large anti-corona demonstrations had not been allowed. Through the results of their study, they could illustrate the conflict between legitimate protest against restrictions on freedom and the consequences for public health. “Our study shows that a radical minority can represent a significant risk for the entire population,” they write in conclusion.

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The AfD did not trim its wing (neue-deutschland.de)

Tino Chrupalla and Alexander Gauland, here in the Bundestag

Photo: dpa | Kay Nietfeld

Officially, the extreme right wing of the AfD disbanded last spring. But now his heads met on January 17th in a restaurant in Steinhöfel (Oder-Spree), as the editorial network Germany (RND) reported last Friday. Accordingly, party leader Tino Chrupalla and parliamentary group leader Alexander Gauland should have been among the good 50 participants in the secret meeting. It was about how the other federal chairman Jörg Meuthen could be replaced, so the RND.

The light was on in the inn

The “nd” had also been on the matter for a week and a half after a tip, but so far has not received any official confirmation. It happened like this: by chance, Christopher Voss, Left District Chairman in Oder-Spree, went for a walk in Steinhöfel on January 17th. He noticed that around two dozen cars with license plates from all over Germany were parked in front of the inn. He was surprised because restaurants are closed due to the corona pandemic. Nevertheless, Voss saw the light burning in the hall, but could not make out any people. But other passers-by also noticed the operation and called the police according to their own statements to report a possible violation of the corona measures. The police are said to have told them that the police and the State Criminal Police Office were there to see it. Accordingly, it was a registered and legal event of the AfD. In view of this, Christopher Voss speculated that it could have been a meeting of the wing.

Inquiries from the “nd” to various authorities, however, all came to nothing. The police headquarters referred to the responsible Police Directorate East. The Police Department East stated that it was not responsible for events in closed rooms. “These are not subject to the obligation to register with the police or assembly authorities.” The “nd” should therefore apply to the municipality. When asked whether the police could at least confirm that citizens had reported to the guard in Fürstenwalde because of this meeting, it was then said in a nutshell that there had only been one such call.

The Office Odervorland, to which Steinhöfel belongs, could not contribute anything to the clarification either. The public order office was not aware of any such event. “So no controls were carried out,” says District Director Marlen Rost. There were no calls from citizens on January 17th. In the end, »nd« asked around in the AfD. There it was initially said that the meeting in Steinhöfel had been the event “Quote no thanks”, to which the AfD member of the state parliament Birgit Bessin had invited – but that had taken place six days later on January 23rd. According to the »Tagesspiegel«, Bessin is said to have also participated in the secret meeting, as did the parliamentary group leader Christoph Berndt.

Legally permissible, politically questionable

Parties are partially exempt from the corona restrictions, explains Mario Behnke, spokesman for the Oder-Spree district administration. The fifth corona containment regulation of the state of Brandenburg regulates seven events and meetings in paragraph. “After that, events without entertainment character are possible in closed rooms with up to 50 people present at the same time.” There is no registration requirement. The health department comes into play when there is a need to deviate from the maximum person limit. Because in special individual cases, the health department can allow exceptions to the upper limit, for example when candidates are put up for elections. The AfD secret meeting was obviously legal. Another question is the political evaluation.

»The power struggle in the AfD continues. It is hardly surprising that such a meeting is currently taking place in Brandenburg, ”says Andrea Johlige (left), member of the state parliament. After all, the AfD has always stood firmly on the side of the right-wing nationalists in the party. It is also no surprise that the wing, which has ostensibly dissolved, »continues to work«, says Johlige. »The structures and contacts are still working. In the end, this shows above all that the alleged dissolution of the wing was a maneuver to save the AfD from observation by the constitution protection. What do you want to resolve if one structure is in fact the dominant one in the party in the East? “

It is significant, meanwhile, that Steinhöfel was said to have been about sawing off party leader Meuthen. Because last year Meuthen ensured that the Brandenburg state chairman Andreas Kalbitz was removed from the party. Reason: In 2015, when he joined, he said he had previously been a member of the neo-fascist home-loyal German youth. Kalbitz denies this and takes legal action against the cancellation of his party membership, but recently suffered another defeat in court on this issue.

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Public prosecutor’s office determined: A gun trail to the AfD

In Bavaria, investigators came across alleged arms dealers. taz research shows: an AfD employee is also among the accused.

They used codes, but meant weapons: the public prosecutor’s office is also investigating AfD people Photo: Reuters

BERLIN / MUNICH taz | They used code words to cover up the illegal trade. Then in chats there was talk of a “moped gearbox”, of a “long gearbox with manual pump” or of “4 x AK gearboxes with 7.62 flanges” for 1,500 euros each. The trade was not about parts of motor vehicles, but about weapons. According to the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office, several people from right-wing extremist circles took care of themselves.

According to Bavarian investigators, these weapons were smuggled from Croatia to Germany and resold there. The investigations began in the Balkans as early as 2018, and the first searches were carried out that year. Last summer, the main suspect Alexander R. was arrested in Croatia. The 48-year-old used to be active in the NPD and other right-wing extremist groups in Munich. According to taz information, the group of accused has now expanded, and the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office is now investigating 16 people. It concerns alleged violations of the War Weapons Control and Weapons Act.

What is explosive about the case is not only the very high number of accused, but also the suspicion of who the alleged buyers are. According to the ZDF program “Frontal 21”, a witness in Croatia testified that the weapons were intended for “the AfD, a right-wing party”.

The suspects’ offices were searched

As taz research now shows, the trail of the weapons even leads to the AfD parliamentary group. Not only the main suspect Alexander R. was in the party. One of the accused works for the Bavarian AfD member of the Bundestag Petr Bystron. This belongs to the right wing of the party and had already been observed by the Bavarian Office for the Protection of the Constitution before he entered the Bundestag. Bystron is explicitly mentioned several times in the report by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which collects indications of suspicion that the AfD is hostile to the constitution. The woman allegedly involved in the arms trade works in Bystron’s constituency office in Munich.

The AfD employee also uses the auto parts code in internal messenger messages that are available to the taz. “When will my gearbox come to Munich?” She asks Alexander R. in summer 2016. She hopes that he will bring “something smart for the € 700” from Croatia. It is unclear whether the purchase came about. Investigators did not find weapons on her. At least once she linked the main accused R. with another potential gun buyer from Bavaria, whose identity is known to the taz.

The woman not only works for the AfD, she is also politically active and ideologically convinced. “I have set myself the fight for our country as my top priority,” she wrote in an email. She does not want to speak to the taz in detail, but says on request that she certainly did not go through Germany as an arms dealer and that she no longer wants to have anything to do with the matter.

The homes and offices of the accused were searched last summer, mainly in Bavaria, but also in Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Austria. According to the public prosecutor’s office, all of the accused are right-wing extremists or citizens of the Reich; at least eight of them are reported to have been noticed in the past in the field of politically motivated crime. None of the people had a gun license. During the searches, a pump gun, two semi-automatic handguns and around 200 cartridges were found. However, the weapons that were allegedly sold to members of the right-wing extremist scene between 2015 and 2018 were not found. Alexander R. and another main suspect are in custody.

Confronted with the allegations against his employee, the AfD member of the Bundestag Bystron reacted evasively. In an SMS from his work cell phone, he wrote to the taz that he was only speaking about his own political work or person.

Note 05.02.21: In an earlier version of the text it was stated that the member of the Bundestag Petr Bystron was a member of the “wing” of the AfD. According to his presentation, this is incorrect. Information on Bystron’s political location was added to the text. “

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Too black and too gay (neue-deutschland.de)

Photo: Unsplash / nci

Denis Hedeler sits behind a pillar with his hands crossed. He is suing the Berlin Labor Court in Tiergarten against the Treptow-Koepenick district office, which had given him notice without notice in mid-December as deputy medical officer; A first quality appointment took place on Wednesday. However, no agreement was reached. The state of Berlin, which is ultimately the defendant and was on site through a representative, merely offered Hedeler a “neutral job reference”. The representative of the employer made the offer hesitantly and said that it could be perceived as a provocation. Hedeler, who is represented by the lawyer Mariam Haschemi Yekami, demanded continued employment in court as well as the issuance of an interim employment certificate and compensation of 36,000 euros. The compensation is about the fact that he accuses the district of not promoting him for racist reasons. The district office denies this.

In November 2020, the 51-year-old started a petition on the anti-discrimination platform »allout« because his application to succeed the retired senior medical officer Andreas von Welczeck had been repeatedly rejected. He accuses the responsible health councilor, Bernd Geschanowski (AfD), of preventing his appointment because he is “too gay” and “too black,” according to the title of the petition. Hedeler described the situation there as follows: “You don’t fit here,” Geschanowski is said to have said to him. “While he was saying this, Herr Geschanowski pointed to his skin. He recommended that I change my ›external presentation‹ «, so Hedeler in the text of the petition. Several media reported about it.

According to media reports, Geschanowski justified the termination with the fact that the relationship of trust had been “permanently destroyed”. The staff council of the district office had approved the extraordinary termination. During the hearing, the representative of the State of Berlin stated several times that the situation described by Hedeler had not taken place.

Judge Arne Boyer said: “We know that racism is the core brand of the AfD.” However, no conclusions could be drawn about the City Councilor for Health, which was drawn into the city council via the AfD party book, this must be clarified on a case-by-case basis. During the quality hearing, the representative of the State of Berlin handed over documents to the plaintiff, in which it should be proven that Geschanowski did not discriminate against the doctor in a racist manner. In addition, there should be found there incriminating material about Hedeler. The representative of the country stated that Hedeler had played the “racism card” several times in order to reject professional criticism. The rejection was made because Hedeler had not yet fully completed the training necessary for the function of the medical officer. The doctor, who was born in Cuba, sees his qualifications as given. In his petition he writes: “With my many years of experience at the Bremen Health Department, at› Doctors Without Borders ‹and my work to contain the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone in 2014, my references in disease control are excellent.”

Hedeler has been working for the Dahme-Spree district since December 26th. The judge suggested in the hearing that the demand for continued employment could have been settled. The representative of the country raised concerns that the doctor had funned many employees. In addition, one is “very etched” about the press coverage. “You would want the plaintiff to stop doing that,” the representative said. Lawyer Hashemi Yekami did not withdraw the demand for continued employment; whether Hedeler could take a leading position in the Brandenburg district is still open. The plaintiff’s attorney should decide how to proceed within 14 days. According to the judge, a second merit negotiation, a merit judicial hearing or a chamber appointment is possible.

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Expert on AfD and the protection of the constitution: “The party’s situation is disastrous”

The entire AfD threatens to be classified as a suspected right-wing extremist. That would be the beginning of the end, says right-wing extremism expert Alexander Häusler.

The AfD: Soon just an annoying marginal phenomenon? Photo: Hans Christian Plambeck / laif

taz: Mr. Häusler, there is much to suggest that the AfD as a whole party will soon be classified as a suspected right-wing extremist case by the protection of the constitution and that this will sooner or later become publicly known. What would that mean for the AfD?

Alexander Häusler: A classification as a right-wing extremist suspected case brings the AfD into the most difficult situation since its existence. The situation for them is disastrous. So far, the party has had a fairly unprecedented series of successes, it went from electoral success to electoral success, also through new populist provocations. This series of successes collapsed due to the corona pandemic.

And the AfD has also turned the populist escalation screw over. As a result, it has moved further and further to the right in its development and almost inevitably came into the sights of the constitutional protection authorities. The consequence for the AfD is devastating.

In what way?

The AfD will lose with its national conservative electorate, because they do not want to get the reputation of being right-wing extremists. It will have to give up its staff because people in the civil service – such as police officers, teachers or soldiers – face consequences if they are active in a party that is led under the heading of right-wing extremism.

And she will have financial collapses because she also lives heavily on private donors and an entrepreneur will now think twice about donating to the AfD if he has to fear counter-campaigns because he supports a right-wing extremist party. The success story of the AfD should be over.

The Saxon Office for the Protection of the Constitution has classified the AfD regional association as a suspected right-wing extremist. It is the fourth regional association after Thuringia, Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt. In this case, too, the authorities see sufficiently weighty “actual indications” for suspicion of extremist activities.

According to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the “wing”, the officially disbanded stream around Björn Höcke, has even been proven right-wing extremist, the young alternative organization, as well as the four state associations, are suspected cases.

According to information from the taz and other media, the Federal Office has also planned to classify the entire party as a suspected case. According to several reports, however, the AfD sued the Cologne administrative court as a prophylactic measure. Until a decision is made on the urgent matter in Cologne, the legal situation is now like this: The authority may classify the party, but it is not allowed to talk about it. But because it will probably inform the state offices for the protection of the constitution and also the parliamentary control body in the Bundestag, it could well be that this information will leak to the media sooner or later. This is exactly what happened again in Saxony.

Why are you so sure about the slump in electoral favor? The AfD has already given the so-called bourgeois voters numerous occasions to turn away – for example through Gauland’s statement about the NS as “bird shit”. In fact, little has happened.

The right-wing populist taboo was still working: You could stage yourself as an alleged representative of the will of the people and say that you don’t belong in the right corner. With this scam, the AfD achieved its success. But that no longer works when the right-wing extremist classification is pronounced.

The “people will be allowed to say that” milieus, which have something to lose socially, will distance themselves. Then the avowed right-wing extremist voters remain.

The AfD likes to counter this with the argument that the other parties are politically instrumentalizing the protection of the Constitution, a Stasi 2.0, so to speak. Can that get caught?

The right-wing pioneer Karlheinz Weißmann once feared something right from his point of view: The AfD threatens to relapse into a “League of the East” if it continues to radicalize. This story of the Stasi 2.0 might get caught in the east, but not nationwide. Weißmann and Co rely on the gap between the CDU / CSU and the right wing. And not on avowed right-wing extremism.

You know: the history of the right-wing parties in the Federal Republic was a history of failure up to the AfD: All these parties, like the Republicans or the League of Free Citizens, have gone the way of marginalization. You can only be successful if you also mobilize conservative milieus.

Speaking of which you are referring to the Republicans: The 1992 surveillance by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution went hand in hand with their decline: Do you see parallels?

It’s hard to compare. The situation today is completely different, both in terms of the political situation and the situation in the right-wing camp. The Republicans still had competition back then, the AfD has developed into the roof of the right-wing camp. But of course there were and still are internal contradictions in these parties, which are exacerbated by external pressure and the protection of the constitution.

What does that mean for the AfD?

The AfD is a kind of collecting movement from different core milieus: the national liberal direction with market-radical economic views, the national-conservative-minded milieu of former Union supporters and the völkisch nationalists and openly right-wing extremists. The three currents have concluded a kind of truce, and thanks to the permanent success in elections, the conflicts have been swept under the carpet. But now they’re breaking out.

58, is a social scientist and research associate with a research focus on right-wing extremism / neo-Nazism (forum) at the Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences. One of his main areas of work is the AfD.

What role does the protection of the constitution play in this?

He increases the pressure. The classification as a right-wing extremist suspected case acts like a sword of Damocles, it is existence-threatening. The AfD gained its success from the approval of these different milieus. If the bridge to the bourgeois camp breaks, then that’s it for these successes. With East German protest voters and openly right-wing extremists alone, no major electoral successes can be achieved.

There are still people in the party who still have something to lose, who have a social position – they are important for the external impact of the party. Otherwise there are only the right gamblers who have nothing more to lose anyway.

So the decline of the AfD would have heralded?

Yes, at least the end of their successful streak so far.

However, this has been said several times in the still relatively short history of the AfD.

Yes, I have often thought that this is the end of the flagpole. And then it wasn’t. So you have to be careful. But if you think about where in the Federal Republic the place is for a right wing party, you come to the conclusion: With its populist escalation screw, the AfD has dug its own grave. Interestingly, many of the successful far-right parties in Europe have developed the other way around.

From right-wing extremism to the center.

I agree. Like the former Front National, the Lega or parties in the Scandinavian region, they emerged in the right-wing extremist corner and have undergone a tactical civilization. You have moved to the center to reach larger segments of the electorate. The AfD went the opposite way and now has the stigma of right-wing extremism.

What do you think: what will happen then?

The AfD will continue to try to defend itself legally. Of course, it would be fatal if their lawsuits were successful and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution had to withdraw their classification.

But if the AfD fails and the party is classified as a suspected right-wing extremist, the end of the Meuthen era would automatically be initiated. His competitors from the far right could rejoice that the whole adjustment course has failed and prevail. Meuthen could then pull the rip cord, leave the party and take part of the AfD with him. You could then play Republicans 2.0 in the western German states.

So if you follow you, there would be a kind of Republican 2.0 in the West and a “League East”. How successful could such parties be?

Not much. They would probably have to fight for the five percent hurdle, at least in the west of the republic, and the decline would be very likely. But at the moment this is of course still an open-ended process.

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No election campaign as AfD 2.0 (neue-deutschland.de)

Photo: dpa / Moritz Frankenberg

Anti-fascists may sometimes react unnerved that a Bertelsmann study recently found what critics of the AfD have been saying almost like a mantra for years: A majority of its supporters do not vote for the party out of protest, but because they have found a political home with their right-wing extremist attitudes to have.

Researching this finding scientifically and recording it as a research result is important for many reasons, especially in the super election year 2021. In particular, the Union parties must strategically deduce from the study that an election campaign with right-wing populist demands would not lead to significant parts of the AfD voters to change their minds. For a measurable effect, the Union would have to adopt so many anti-migration, chauvinist and authoritarian positions that it mutated into an »AfD 2.0«. The extreme right would have inflicted a heavy defeat on the pluralistic society. That would be fatal.

At the same time, the frustrating news can be derived from the study that there is no one democratic recipe for pushing back the AfD. Not becoming like them is a start, however.

From clearly right-wing extremist to latently right-wing populist …

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The AfD is successful not in spite of, but because of its positions – opinion

It was the end of previous political certainties: Germany got bruises in 2017. In the federal election, the AfD had achieved a double-digit result. It was able to convince non-voters and previous supporters of the CDU, SPD and the left. In Saxony she got three direct mandates and broke the power of the Christian Democrats.

Four years later, it seems that the party itself is on the brink. The observation by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution is imminent. Branded as a “right-wing extremist suspected case”, she will probably have to contest this super election year – and will probably be successful.

Because in eastern German states such as Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, also in Saxony and Brandenburg, the AfD has established itself as a people’s party – not despite its right-wing extremist and anti-democratic positions, but precisely because of it. The party staff roared their tirades of hate from the marketplace stages in pre-Corona times, and were applauded by pensioners and families. And otherwise you don’t need the protection of the constitution to know that the AfD is spreading inhuman rhetoric and false news every minute. A look at Twitter or Facebook is enough.

The party’s contacts with right-wing extremist movements have been known for years. A state politician from Saxony-Anhalt maintained a kind of office community in Halle with representatives of the radical Identitarian Movement. The Brandenburg parliamentary group leader Andreas Kalbitz flew out of the AfD because of his proximity to right-wing extremist associations – but he was followed by Hans-Christoph Berndt, head of a right-wing extremist association.

The Thuringian parliamentary group leader Björn Höcke can be called a fascist with a judicial blessing. That’s how overwhelming the burden of proof is. But anyone who argues against AfD voters must expect defiant anger: I am one too.

Many AfD supporters appreciate the party’s disruptive power

It won’t be any different if politicians from other parties tackle the AfD even harder in the upcoming election campaign – precisely because it is being watched. The mainstream electorate of this party has long since ceased to believe in the lessons of history or in the authority of state institutions. She thinks she is in a victim role, oppressed by “the system”, manipulated by the “lying press”. She does not demand any creative will from the AfD, but appreciates the corrosive force with which she plunged Saxony into the political crisis in 2017 and Thuringia last year.

The AfD will again move into East German state parliaments this year. And probably also in the Bundestag. Your clout will depend on whether you manage to tap into other groups of voters, such as corona deniers and conspiracy ideologues. AfD politicians regularly attend “lateral thinkers” demonstrations. Last autumn, members of the Bundestag from the Corona deniers party smuggled into the Reichstag building.

The political power of the AfD in the future also depends on the CDU state associations in Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt, which are sometimes behaviorally abnormal. Influential functionaries sit there who still believe that they can convert AfD voters with right-wing conservative politics. The anti-attitude of the new federal CDU boss, Armin Laschet, should change little. Perhaps the protection of the constitution can do this.

Correction: In an earlier version it was said that Andreas Kalbitz was parliamentary group leader in Berlin. In fact, he exercised this function in the Brandenburg state parliament. He was excluded from the AfD because he is said to have concealed a previous membership in a right-wing extremist association when he joined the party.

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Right-wing extremist attitudes widespread among AfD voters – politics

The AfD has recently made some efforts to show that it distances itself from right-wing extremist ideas. She published statements banning right-wing extremists from the party. The big goal: to prevent the Office for the Protection of the Constitution from upgrading the entire party to a suspected right-wing extremist case. But now the analysis of a survey thwarted the party’s image cultivation. Almost every third AfD voter (29 percent) has right-wing extremist attitudes, according to a recent publication by the Bertelsmann Foundation.

Xenophobia, anti-Semitism and a tendency towards authoritarian regimes are therefore much more widespread among AfD voters than among supporters of the other parties in the Bundestag. This is the conclusion reached by the foundation in the evaluation of a study based on a representative online survey from June 2020. After all, almost eight percent of all eligible voters in Germany represent a right-wing extremist view of the world, according to the paper.

In order to measure right-wing extremist attitudes, a good 10,000 participants in the survey were asked to position themselves on statements such as “The crimes of National Socialism have been greatly exaggerated in historiography” or “The Federal Republic is dangerously foreigned by the many foreigners” . Such statements found the greatest agreement among those surveyed who intend to vote for the AfD. In this group it was almost one in three. Among the supporters of the CDU and CSU, six percent expressed themselves accordingly. According to the Bertelsmann Foundation, the proportion of voters in the Left and FDP was five percent each. The value was lower for the SPD voters (four percent) and the voters of the Greens (two percent).

The study authors see a proximity to the NPD

The conclusions of the study authors are clear: While the election success in the 2017 federal election was primarily a success of right-wing populist voter mobilization in the shadow of the refugee crisis, it is evident that the AfD’s electorate was largely right-wing extremist before the 2021 federal election. The attitude profile of the AfD electorate is much more similar to the profile of the right-wing extremist NPD than the attitude profile of the other parties represented in the Bundestag, according to the paper.

However, the study itself limits the power of assessment with regard to the question of whether the protection of the constitution should take a tougher pace. The related attitude research is “not to be equated with the operationalization of right-wing extremism in suspected proceedings of the constitution protection”, it says in the paper. The available figures therefore do not provide any direct deductions or assessments of the constitutional protection assessment and classification of individual parties.

Several studies appeared in the past year that indicate that populist and right-wing extremist attitudes have declined, or at least have not increased. Currently, only about two out of ten eligible voters in Germany (20.9 percent) are populist, according to the Populism Barometer 2020. That was 11.8 percentage points or slightly more than a third less than in November 2018 (32.8 percent) . However, this study also warned that the risk of right-wing extremist attitudes was growing on the far right.

The important Leipzig authoritarianism study, which measures right-wing or right-wing extremist attitudes, came to the result last year that right-wing extremist attitudes or attitudes downplaying National Socialism have tended to decrease or have remained the same in Germany since 2002. However, they have risen slightly in several categories in eastern Germany since 2018.

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