Your election to head the AfD list next year has been described in Germany’s mainstream media as a confirmation of “the AfD’s shift to the extreme right.” How would you comment on this? Do you consider yourself to be an extremist or “far right?” Why do they call you this?
First, I don’t believe that those labels tell you anything.
To give you an example, I believe there are just two genders, male and female, and that you can’t switch between them. So if you are a man and you wear a female dress, you remain a man.
This position, in my mind, is completely rational. But under the current circumstances, it makes you “far right.”
So the first question is: How radical is it to say there are just two sexes or two “genders” and you can’t switch between them? I would say that what is radical is to say there are 43 genders and you can choose between them every year again.
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To say something is radical or extremist means that there are common standards within a society, but we live in a society that has completely lost its common standards, so those labels don’t tell you anything. They just serve the purpose of attacking your political opponents.
This is, by the way, a historical fact as the label “right-wing extremist” was once introduced by Joseph Stalin to criminalize the communists’ conservative opponents in Eastern Europe.
So I don’t use those labels. I just look at what politicians want and say. I look at their program and their manifestos. In my case, it’s very easy to do because I wrote a manifesto prior to my election, so everybody can read it and then decide whether I’m an extremist.
In part of the German media, you are also called a nationalist, an ethno-nationalist, or sometimes an identitarian. Do these epithets reflect the way you identify yourself?
I would not say that I’m a nationalist as I believe that the world of the future will be multi-polar. In my view, the time when nation-states were the only international players is over. True, I’m an outspoken critic of the bureaucratic monster that the EU has become.
But I’m not and have never been in favor of the complete renationalization of our policies. I just believe that we should give more power back to the nation-states because right now we have reached a stage where the EU has become an undemocratic monster.
We need European cooperation, we need the European level, but we don’t need what we have today. We need another kind of Europe.
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So I would not call myself a fierce nationalist or anything like that. When it comes to the question of whether I’m an “identitaire,” I just happen to think that identity is the key word to understand current rights and politics.
Not identity as the Left understands it, not this idée fixe that you are what you believe you are, even though what you believe does not exist.
I am referring to identity in the sense of living according to what you are in reality, living according to reality, living as a man or woman, as a child of your parents, and as a part of your nation, of your people, living life according to nature, and having an identity that sticks to reality.
The last time we talked for Remix News was in early 2021. You then told me about the Alternative for Germany, which is a very diverse party. You said that in the AfD, there are national conservatives, Christian conservatives, libertarians, and all kinds of people who are on the right of Hillary Clinton and Angela Merkel. Is this still the case?
It is still the case that in Germany, everyone who is more right-wing than Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel, or Emmanuel Macron is labeled “far-right.” The difference now, as far as the AfD is concerned, is that we have overcome this permanent internal confrontation we had in the party in the past years.
We are today much more united than we’ve ever been, and that explains our success. People want to have a united party and not a party that is in a permanent state of internal war. Being more united, we are now more successful. This is one of the pillars of our success.
What are, in your opinion, the other main reasons for your party’s recent surge in opinion polls?
I would say that the other reason is the ideology. We have become more coherent in what we stand for and what we want is now clear. We have overcome the old times of populism.
Being a populist is just being against things. The populists see what’s going wrong, and they’re against it, often in a spectacular way.
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What we have now developed in the Alternative for Germany party is truly an alternative vision for our country. Our vision is to allow people to live in accordance with reality and nature. It is a coherent vision to make Germany and Europe a better place and to overcome the left-wingers. This appeals to people.
The third reason for our rise is that the established parties have failed horribly.
Talking about those established parties, being in the opposition, and having changed leaders to Mr. Merz, hasn’t the CDU turned back to right-wing conservative values? Shouldn’t this be an obstacle to the rise of the AfD?
I don’t think that the CDU can turn back. For the last 20 years, or even more, the CDU has chosen its executives, and its politicians, aiming at making possible a coalition with the Greens. Some two-thirds of CDU politicians have been chosen for being close to the Greens. Those people can’t now turn to the right because no one would trust them.
And anyway, Mr. Merz himself has continued the party’s drift to the left.
Just a few days ago, they presented their new logo, which is in light green. They have lost any touch with reality, but they now also have a logo to present themselves as a new version of the Greens.
Mr. Merz is a fake conservative. He is a BlackRock lobbyist and is now the president of a party that is overwhelmingly following the Greens, which means a left-liberal woke way. And I truly believe that in the next five to ten years, we will see a split of the CDU into two parties.
About a third of the CDU is made up of solid center-conservative members, especially in east Germany, and they will not follow the mostly west German leadership into becoming a twin party of the Greens.
The current CDU is no partner for us and will not turn to the right, although the polls show that this would be a good thing for them. In my opinion, we can just write them off.
What about Sahra Wagenknecht? She’s a communist but she’s anti-immigration, which is an important topic for you. Aren’t you afraid of the possibility she may now leave Die Linke to create her own party and take some of your voters away?
Most Marxists have good analyses but usually wrong solutions, and it is the same with Wagenknecht, who has several problems.
The first is we don’t know whether she’s really anti-immigration. On the other hand, we do know that, within her party, some people are pro-immigration. So we don’t think that she will be really against immigration.
Moreover, she has not yet really made the connection between immigration and social injustice.
In a society of migration, social inequalities and the social question are linked to immigration. For example, only 5 percent of German citizens receive welfare in the form of the so-called citizens’ money (Bürgergeld). But if you look at the Syrians in Germany, 55 percent get that citizens’ money.
So you see that the social question is linked with the national question. And Wagenknecht has not fully adopted it. She approaches the social question the old-fashioned Marxist way.
The second thing is that we don’t know yet about her future party. Under German law, you can’t have a one-woman party. You have to be very democratic, and we think that she will choose people from the left who are horribly left-wing.
So yes, she as a person is appealing to a portion of our voters, but I don’t think that the party she may create will be appealing to our voters. It will be much worse than she is as an individual person.
And on the ballot paper, you vote for a party, not for a single person. That is why we don’t consider her a real threat.
And what about the AfD’s difficulties with the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the BfV? We talked about it two years ago, but it’s still, I think, very present as a threat to you. It has the power, I understand, to surveil any member of the AfD in certain states, such as Saxony. Is there any information about how extensive their surveillance program is?
No, but I suspect that even this call we are now having is being surveilled.
In other democratic countries, it would be unbelievable to have a government agency surveilling the opposition the way they surveil us.
There is something new, however: The public and the voters don’t care about it anymore. Although they surveil us, although they write in the newspapers that they consider us to be a threat to public order, people just don’t care. They continue to vote for us. They join our ranks.
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This is completely new. Twenty years ago, if the Office for the Protection of the Constitution had warned against a party, telling people they should not join them, that they are a danger, then people would have believed the authorities and stayed away.
It is never nice to be surveilled. It is never nice to have spies, who are probably around me, but at least it is not harming our political success. It means we have to continue to grow and then hope we’ll get over it.
I understand that newcomers to the AFD can be surveilled too from the time they become members, right?
You are from former East Germany. How does this relate to the Stasi system of surveillance you had in that country?
It’s a typical thing I tell people, that I hold the same political principles as my father did in the 1980s. My father was surveilled by the domestic intelligence service. I am now again surveilled by the domestic intelligence service. We know that when you hold conservative political views, then you have a problem with domestic intelligence. This is how we see it in east Germany, so we don’t take it too seriously.
For West Germany it was different, because in the past, at least, the domestic intelligence had a very high reputation. Obviously, this time is over, because otherwise, the polls would not be so good for the AfD. People in Germany have lost a lot of trust in the public authority.
No wonder the Office for the Protection of the Constitution is after you. Its head, Thomas Haldenwang, is a member of the CDU, your political competitor on the right…
Yes, and the minister for the interior, Nancy Faeser, who is a Social Democrat, has the right to give him orders. The government can give orders to the agency, and the agency itself is run by a Christian Democrat. It’s very disturbing.
It looks like Germany has some real problems with democracy and the rule of law, don’t you think so? I mean real problems, not the kind Hungary and Poland are accused of.
All those institutions have changed tremendously because the left and the center today are woke. They don’t think anymore in the old categories of national interest and national sovereignty. They all believe that their job is not to serve Germany but mankind, or humankind as they would now say. They devalue all those old terms and principles, and they are not even aware of it.
But yes, Germany has a problem with democracy when the government can surveil the opposition.
Concerning next year’s elections to the European Parliament, I understand you have big expectations. You expect to have more MEPs than you’ve had until now. I understand you’re not in favor of “Dexit,” but in favor of deep reforms at the EU level. But do you really think this undemocratic monster, as you call the European Union, can be changed? After all, even if you have good results and other parties on the right in Europe have good results, we all know there will still be this domination of this great coalition extending from the center-right to the far-left in the European Parliament, right?
I still think reforming the EU is possible because of two developments. The first development is indeed that the Eurosceptic parties will have more votes in the European Parliament.
But more importantly, reality is proving us right. The point is that the problems we are facing are increasing.
We now have war directly in our neighborhood. Of all the regions in the world, ours is the one with the least economic progress. We have a horrible demographic situation, we are losing the technological race, and we are facing a very dangerous immigration crisis.
None of the big problems we are facing are being solved by the EU, while many of those problems are created by the EU.
If you have a political structure that is not able to solve the problems and makes the problems bigger, then there is pressure to change those structures.
So, there are two forces at work here: the opposition from inside the EU and the practical problems, which are working against the EU. The combined action of those two forces will transform Europe quickly. In 10 years’ time, the European Union will have a completely different shape.
I was at CPAC Hungary in Budapest last May, and I saw people from your Identity & Democracy parliamentary group, people from the National Rally, the League, and the FPÖ, for example, but I didn’t see anyone from the AfD. Why wasn’t there a presence from the AfD?
There are two reasons why we weren’t there. The first is that in foreign policy, we are seen as following the multipolarity concept instead of the Atlanticist concept. And CPAC, as you know, is an American conference.
The other reason was that, at the time when CPAC Hungary took place, there were some uncertainties about the future of several groups in the European Parliament, with many parties negotiating whether there should be one big group on the right.
At the time, they thought it would be better to talk without us Germans. I consider this a mistake, but it was not our mistake.
We took notice that they excluded us, but in the end, you can’t do politics in Europe without Germany. So I don’t expect that we will get excluded in the future again.
I consider this an exception due to those two reasons: that we are more pro-multipolarity instead of being Atlanticist in our foreign policy thinking, and that there were negotiations going on, which clearly had no success because building coalitions in Europe without the Germans is not a very smart idea.
As you know, Remix News is a news website from Central Europe, and we have many readers from this region. So my last question will be from the Polish perspective. The AfD, although it’s closer to the Law and Justice party on social issues than any other German party, is still seen by Polish conservatives – and not only by the conservatives but by almost every Polish party – as a danger, because it is seen as a party renewing the old Bismarckian policy of an alliance with Russia, to the detriment of smaller nations, among them Poland. Is there something you can say about the AfD’s political program that could reassure the Poles?
This is a question of trust. We know that there are two right-wing parties in Poland, the PiS and the Konfederacja (Confederation). Konfederacja has a much younger electorate, and the first thing is we see that the younger people in Poland don’t fear this old Bismarckian style of politics as much as their elders who vote for PiS. I believe younger people in Poland have a much more realistic view of us.
As the AfD, we actually see Poland as an ally in the fight against wokeism. In that respect, the Poles are much more successful right now than we are and it would be in our interest to work with them.
And to be clear, the AfD will not try to change borders, contrary to what some might suggest about us, and we consider Poland’s national sovereignty, borders, and safety as something we should defend too, as part of our alliance with Poland.
I don’t know a single member of the AfD who has any doubt about this or who would dream about a new partitioning of Poland between Russia and Germany. All we can do is continue to explain to our Polish friends and personal contacts that the risk they perceive in us has nothing to do with reality.
I understand the AfD is not in favor of Germany leaving NATO, right?
The point is that there is currently no alternative to NATO, but we want Europe to become more independent from the United States.
The truth is we don’t know what America’s future will be. In the 2040s, the majority of Americans will not have European roots. That means the America of the 2040s will be completely different from the America of 1945, which was a more or less European country, ethnically speaking.
So we don’t know what the future will bring. America’s future will be much less European than its past.
Therefore, Europe needs to become much more autonomous and independent from America because Europe cannot be dependent on a non-European America. This is why we should already prepare our future strategic autonomy.
We will see what America does, but we cannot say forever that America is the guardian of our safety and foreign policy. America is changing, and it is changing away from Europe.
German MEP Maximilian Krah (Alternative for Germany, AfD), of the Identity & Democracy Group, is a lawyer and former member of the CDU. Last July, he was elected with a large majority at the party’s congress in Magdeburg to head the AfD’s list and lead its campaign in next year’s elections to the European Parliament.