The Berlin district court will advise on the cancellation of the AfD membership of Andreas Kalbitz on Friday. Support for him is crumbling.
The bald man who is currently independent: Andreas Kalbitz Photo: Soeren Stache / dpa-Zentralbild / dpa
BERLIN taz | Andreas Kalbitz probably imagined it differently. Instead of bursting with strength, as the right-wing extremist likes to portray, he is weakened this Friday for the next round of his AfD membership. Civil Chamber 43 meets at 10 a.m. in room 0208/0209 of the Berlin Regional Court to discuss Kalbitz’s application for an injunction.
The bald head, who is currently independent from any party and who has long stood at Björn Höcke’s side at the head of the “wing”, wants to become a member of the AfD again, at least temporarily. And thus also Brandenburg’s state chief and assessor on the party’s federal executive committee. Until the regional court decides in the main proceedings whether the cancellation of his membership was legal. Which can take many months. It is questionable, however, whether a victory in the Kalbitz district court will really bring back his old position of power in the AfD. But first things first, the situation is complicated.
At the request of party leader Jörg Meuthen, the federal executive board had canceled Kalbitz’s AfD membership with a narrow majority in May. From now on, he was no longer a party member, no longer a state chief and also no longer a member of the federal executive committee. A bitter blow for Kalbitz and the “wing” fans. And a declaration of war from Meuthen.
The reason given by the federal board: when he joined the AfD in 2013, Kalbitz did not state that he had previously been a member of the Republicans and the neo-Nazi organization Heimattreue Deutsche Jugend (HDJ), which was banned in 2009. According to the AfD’s statutes, he should have done that. Kalbitz denies having been a member of the HDJ, his involvement with the Republicans has long been known.
Legally controversial decision
However, it is controversial whether the federal executive board is even allowed to make such a decision, even if it is provided for in the AfD’s statutes. According to the party law, the body cannot simply kick someone out. A proper party exclusion procedure is necessary, which the party’s arbitration tribunal must decide on.
Kalbitz immediately and successfully sued for an injunction against the decision. Suddenly he was a party member again, also head of the country and member of the federal executive board. Until the party’s arbitration court ruled in July that the federal board’s decision was legal. Now Kalbitz is outside again. And he hopes to be a party member again at the end of the day by means of an injunction.
He doesn’t have bad cards. It is understandable that it is difficult for Kalbitz to wait until a decision is made on the main issue. In the coming months, important decisions will be made in the AfD, and the candidates for the Bundestag election will also be nominated.
Various political party lawyers are also of the opinion that the decision of the federal executive committee is not legally tenable. It remains to be seen, however, whether the regional court still considers the whole procedure to be inadmissible or whether it is satisfied that the party’s arbitration tribunal has now decided. According to the court, it is still open whether a decision will be made this Friday.
If Kalbitz loses, it will be tight for him. In the meantime, support is crumbling even in Brandenburg, where the AfD regional association is classified as a suspected right-wing extremist case by the protection of the Constitution and was previously known for its loyalty to Kalbitz. First the parliamentary group forced him to suspend the chairmanship of the parliamentary group – which he could have continued to exercise from a legal point of view as a non-party member – and then on Tuesday he had to give it up completely.
Previously, the Potsdam public prosecutor’s office had initiated investigations into the initial suspicion of negligent bodily harm against Kalbitz. The latter inflicted a ruptured spleen with a boxing blow to the acting group leader Dennis Holoch, who is actually considered to be Kalbitz’s confidante. Kalbitz spoke of a “mishap”. But if you believe reports from the group, it was probably not the first incident of its kind.
Kai Laubach, the employee of a member of the state parliament, accuses Kalbitz in an open letter of having “punched someone in the face” at the parliamentary group meeting in 2019. “You are party cancer, boy,” writes Laubach. And: “Please go!”
Public prosecutor’s office is investigating a lie
It has since become known that the Berlin public prosecutor’s office is also investigating Kalbitz. The background is an affidavit in which Kalbitz alleged that he was not a member of the HDJ. There is an initial suspicion that this is a lie.
Various experts had doubts about this anyway – among other things because there are pictures of Kalbitz in a tent camp HDJ, a conspiratorial organization whose events you couldn’t look around so easily. But that is exactly what Kalbitz had maintained over and over again. In addition, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution says it has proof of membership of the “Andreas Kalbitz family”.
In the meantime, not only the Brandenburg AfD is moving away from Kalbitz. Little has been heard from the “wing” in defense of it, and withdrawals are noticeable even among a section of the federal leadership who spoke out against the cancellation of Kalbitz’s membership on the executive board.
The chairman of the AfD parliamentary group, Alexander Gauland, who is also honorary chairman of the AfD, told the dpa that he had spoken to Hohloch himself to find out firsthand about the incident. What happened there was “unforgivable,” said Gauland. However, this should have nothing to do with his support for Kalbitz in the controversy over his membership in the party. And Meuthen’s co-party leader Tino Chrupalla said it was “consistent and right” that Kalbitz had given up the parliamentary group chairmanship.
If Kalbitz loses in court, he can pack up in the AfD first. And even if he wins, his key position in the party, where he was previously the influential puller of the “wing”, could be over. In this case, however, another is in trouble: party leader Jörg Meuthen.