In an unprecedented step, a German court on Tuesday evening ruled that German domestic law enforcement can now label the Alternative for Germany (AfD) a “suspected threat” to democracy, which would allow the government to utilize wiretaps on all members and politicians in the party and use informants.
After the ruling from the administrative court in Cologne, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) can now move forward with surveillance measures that are expected to severely restrict the activities and membership interest in the AfD, one of the largest parties in the country.
The court announced that there were sufficient factual indications of anti-constitutional efforts within the AfD, reported German newspaper Die Welt.
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While smaller extremist parties have been designated a “suspected case,” in the past, the AfD received millions of votes in the last election and has a position in both the German and EU parliaments. The move may demonstrate a lack of tolerance for differing political opinions in Germany’s increasing questionable liberal democratic model.
The AfD has been especially targeted for its opposition to mass immigration, which is a position increasingly at odds with Germany’s dominant liberal establishment.
The Cologne court argued that there were signs that the AfD sought to reduce non-German ethnicities in Germany and displayed “undemocratic” goals, while the AfD party argued in vain that it was not propagating any ethnic concept. Also, the party stressed that its polemical criticism of other parties or the federal government is not a criticism of the parliamentary system itself but a part of the country’s political debate.
In its reasoning behind the ruling, the court countered that in the youth organization Junge Alternative (JA) and the formally dissolved right “wing” of the AfD party harbored an ethnic concept of Germany’s people. According to the verdict, this is contrary to the concept of the people in the German Basic Law, which serves as the country’s constitution.
A ‘surprise’ verdict
AfD’s co-chairman Tino Chrupalla said he was surprised and disappointed by the verdict.
“We were surprised by the verdict on being classified as a suspected case. We do not share the view of the Cologne administrative court. We had hoped for a different result. After all, we were able to succeed with two appeals,” commented Chrupalla.
He will now wait for the written reasoning of the judgment. A decision will then be made as to whether “further appeals will be filed.”
The head of the AfD parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Alice Weidel, told Junge Freiheit that the AfD would “of course continue to legally defend itself.”
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The AfD achieved partial success with its lawsuit against the classification of the AfD’s “wing” as “extremist.” Based on the sources presented by the German intelligence service, it is unclear whether the “wing” still exists as an internal AfD association. Therefore, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution can no longer publicly announce that the organization has been classified as a “secure extremist effort.”
In another lawsuit, the administrative court also prohibited the Office for the Protection of the Constitution from publicly claiming that the “wing” had 7,000 members.
However, the AfD’s lawsuit against the classification of the Junge Alternative as a suspected case was rejected. The party can still appeal against the verdict.