While Germany slips into deindustrialization, punishes working-class farmers, and faces a growing budget crisis, calls to ban the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party are growing stronger and stronger as the party soars in the polls.
However, the idea is so dangerous that intellectuals, politicians, and journalists from across the political spectrum are warning against such an action, which would destroy democracy forever in Germany. One commentator, Harald Martenstein, who routinely writes for the Welt newspaper, arguably the most popular newspaper in the country, has just described it as “one of the stupidest ideas ever:”
“Germany’s deindustrialization is underway, and this has nothing to do with global trends. The government considers its citizens to be indefinitely subject to tribute when it comes to restructuring society. And the growing AfD is to be stopped by banning the party — one of the stupidest ideas ever,” Martenstein writes.
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“All people who work for the party would immediately lose their jobs… We would reduce the structure of the AfD to zero”
Later in his piece, entitled “A political elite could not show its contempt for the population more clearly,” he argues that the concerns of Germans regarding climate change and immigration are legitimate, and yet, the political establishment, out of a sense of panic, is labeling any opposition as “far right” and “extremist.”
“Demands such as those for regulated migration or for a climate policy that does not allow the country to suffer economic losses have nothing to do with right-wing extremism. They are important to many.
Because little or nothing is happening (on these issues), the AfD is over 30 percent in the east and not far below in the west. The solution to this problem should now be a ban on the AfD. Of all the political ideas I’ve experienced, and I’ve lived a long time, this is one of the stupidest.”
The article itself has generated nearly 3,500 comments, which even by Welt standards is a significant amount. The publication itself is also generally seen as pro-CDU (Christian Democrat) and routinely runs critical pieces on the AfD. Nevertheless, a ban on an entire political party that one in four voters currently say they would choose would shake Germany like an earthquake.
Martenstein touches on a variety of crises the ruling government currently faces, including the recent farmer protests.
“The fact that a person is not yet living at subsistence level apparently automatically makes them legitimate prey. Sure, subsidies can be cut. They are not a basic right. It’s the arbitrariness, the unannounced, sudden grab into their wallets that has made farmers particularly angry. There is no political concept behind the removal of the diesel subsidy, for example, no idea for the future,” he writes.
For some outside Germany, the question arises as to why the left-liberal government is targeting farmers. The answer, very clearly, is a surprise ruling by the country’s top court that their budget scheme is unconstitutional. After the ruling, the government was suddenly short €60 billion in budget money.
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“The sole reason for this measure is the government’s urgent need for money. A need that has arisen due to an unconstitutional budget (…) due to government mistakes for which farmers are now expected to bleed. There are too many civil servants as voters, and NGOs close to the government are too close to the government.”
Martenstein goes on to warn that German taxpayers are being bled across the board, writing: “The state no longer sees itself as a service provider. Instead, the population is seen as subjects who are indefinitely subject to the government’s social restructuring plans. Warning to all wallets: Your money is not yours. You only have your money until those at the top need it for their projects.
He then goes on to criticize the government’s labeling of protesters as “right-wing extremist or racist,” a trick he says has been going on for years but is losing its power to persuade. He also said that Agricultural Minister Cem Özdemir’s claims that the farmers had a problem with him because is Turkish is absurd, as the entire protest was sparked by concrete austerity cuts and had nothing to do with Özdemir’s ethnic background.
Martenstein also notes that while employment is at an all-time high, much of it is made up of government workers, while the backbone of Germany, manufacturing, has seen its employment drop from 8.4 million before the coronavirus to 8.1 million, with substantial cuts expected in 2024 as well. The number of entrepreneurs has also fallen dramatically.
Regarding the AfD ban as a solution to all these problems, Martenstein writes: “There is no clearer way for a political elite to say to its population: Screw you all with your worries and wishes. The ban could not be legally implemented before this year’s elections anyway, but the voters’ reaction of defiance is likely to be huge.”