‘This shouldn’t happen in a democracy’ – AfD politician withdraws from election race after threats to his family

By Dénes Albert
4 Min Read

A successful entrepreneur who was running for the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in district elections says he is withdrawing his candidacy due to serious threats to his family.

The 40-year-old Matthias Beerbaum cited “threats against and danger to” his family, although he did not give specific details surrounding the potential threat. He said the decision was not easy for him, but he did not want to deal with endangering his family.

“This should not happen in a democracy,” he announced in a press release on Thursday evening last week.

The threats against his family come at a time when the media and the government have compared the AfD to the Nazi party and claimed the party is “anti-democratic.” Many within the left-liberal ruling coalition are now calling for a complete ban on the opposition party due to its popularity in the polls. At the same time, the country’s far-left interior minister, Nancy Faeser, has called to shut down bank accounts for those who donate to “extremist” right-wing parties and, in conjunction with the federal police and the Office of the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), plans to initiate a series of new laws to target the opposition.

The entrepreneur, who is well-known in his region, was running for the position of the Saale-Holzland district in Germany.

For years, Beerbaum has worked for the AfD on the committee for construction, economy and infrastructure, as well as on the budget and finance committee within the district council.

The AfD’s district association expressed understanding for Beerbaum’s resignation, acknowledging that the mood in both Germany and within the district “has become heated,” according to district spokesperson Denny Jankowski while speaking with German publication Junge Freiheit.

In addition to new pressure from Germany’s domestic law enforcement agencies, the media, and the ruling government, AfD campaign events also feature a massively increased police presence. In one event in Jena, 150 police officers were present, representing a dramatic increase from the past. Even local campaign stands set up by the AfD feature numerous police vehicles.

Despite the pressure, the AfD indicated they had not expected threats to be directed at Beerbaum’s family.

The AfD may try to put forward a new candidate, although it is unclear if this will happen in time for the May 26 elections.

“It’s up to the members to decide,” Jankowski said.

However, the party remains optimistic that it will be able to field a new candidate, especially as the AfD is performing exceedingly well in the region. Last month, in January, the AfD candidate won 47.5 percent of the vote in the first round in the neighboring Saale-Orla district, although he narrowly lost the second round 48 percent to 52 percent against a CDU candidate.

According to official government data, AfD members and politicians are attacked more than any other party in Germany.

Last year, party co-leader Alice Weidel reportedly featured a credible threat that led her and her family to head temporarily to a “safe house.” A number of AfD politicians have suffered from arson attacks outside their family homes, and others have been brutally assaulted.

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