Members of the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Left party (Die Linke) are calling for a ban on the conservative Alternative for Germany (AfD) party just as it surges in the polls, raising fears that Germany, which prides itself on being democratic, will attempt to completely ban one of the largest parties in the country.
Dorothea Marx (SPD), a member of the Thuringian state parliament, is one of the politicians calling for the AfD party to be banned.
“The time is ripe,” Marx told the dpa news agency. Above all, she said, the Thuringian state assembly must act quickly.
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She said that although numerous state branches of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution were monitoring the party, it was only logical for the state to take further measures and exclude it from party funding.
“The next logical thing then is a ban procedure,” the SPD politician stressed. According to Marx, it would also be possible to ban individual state associations. “AfD’s hatred and agitation must no longer be equated with democratic freedom of expression.”
As Remix News has previously reported, AfD is currently facing extreme surveillance and monitoring, which interferes with the party’s ability to operate. The powerful Office for the Protection of the Constitution domestic intelligence agency has deemed AfD a “suspected threat” to democracy, which enables agents to read emails and listen to phone calls of members without a warrant. It would be the equivalent of the FBI in the United States deeming the Republican Party a “suspected threat” to the constitution and having the power to surveil any party member merely on the basis that they belong to the party.
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AfD’s leadership has long warned that the country’s left-liberal ruling bloc would move to ban the party entirely. Given AfD’s surging popularity, with the party rising to 16 percent in the polls, its highest level ever, many of these rival parties would like to see the opposition party removed entirely from the democratic system.
SPD”s Marx received support from Thuringia’s Left party politician Katharina König-Preuss, who is known for her connections to Antifa.
“A ban can help deprive AfD of state funding,” said the state parliament member. “A ban can also help to disarm AfD members more quickly. We know of demonstrably around 50 AfD actors armed with live firearms in the state.” The party, she said, is no less “fighting against human dignity, the principle of democracy, and the rule of law than NPD.”
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The idea that banning a party to save democracy is widespread in Germany’s left-wing circles; however, AfD has argued that nobody in the party has ever advocated anti-democratic principles. In fact, there is evidence the party wants to strengthen it by introducing Swiss-style citizen referendums, which would allow citizens to vote on specific issues, which is currently only allowed in some states such as Berlin.
As Germany’s entire political leadership has moved to slap sanctions on Russia over the war in Ukraine, AfD has pushed for Germany to reopen the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and repair any damage. Germany’s industrial sector is highly reliant on cheap Russian energy, and surging inflation is threatening political unrest. As a result, politicians may be seeking to head off the party before it grows in popularity, as the economic crisis is only expected to worsen.
Can AfD be banned?
The far-left is not the only political force seeking to ban AfD, with the center-left Christian Democratic Union (CDU) also calling for a ban on the party in the past. However, despite many of these parties looking to eliminate their rival, there is only one institution, the Federal Constitutional Court, that can truly ban the party.
In the past, only the Socialist Reich Party (1952) and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD, 1956) were banned. Corresponding proceedings against the ultra-nationalist NPD failed after Germany’s highest court was unable to clarify in the first attempt how great the influence of informers from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution was. In the second attempt, the Karlsruhe body ruled that although NPD wanted to abolish the free democratic state order, it was ultimately too insignificant.
AfD has never promoted any of the ultra-nationalist policies of NPD, but given its recent success, the party is certainly not insignificant.