Bojan Pancevski, Wall Street Journal, March 3, 2021
Germany’s intelligence agency opened an investigation into the far-right Alternative for Germany as a potential threat to the constitutional order, officials said Wednesday, an unprecedented move at the start of a decisive election year for the country.
The decision marks the latest escalation in the scrutiny of Germany’s largest parliamentary opposition party, whose popularity soared in the wake of the 2015 refugee crisis. The electoral fortunes of the party, known as the AfD, have waned following a string of scandals but it remains popular in some parts of the country.
Germany faces several important votes this year, with six states going to the polls ahead of a federal election in September that will conclude Angela Merkel’s 16-year reign as chancellor.
Germany’s domestic intelligence service, the BfV, monitors extremist groups and criminal organizations within the country.
Its investigation into a political group elected to the federal parliament is without precedent in the country’s contemporary history. Such a probe would normally involve electronic surveillance and other forms of wiretapping but the agency agreed to limit its information gathering on elected officials after the AfD filed a lawsuit against its investigation.
Alice Weidel, a co-chair of the AfD and the party’s floor leader in the federal parliament, said the probe was designed to harm the party ahead of the national election.