John Cody, Remix, June 8, 2023
The conservative Alternative for Germany (AfD) is soaring to record highs in the polls, which has left Germany’s political and media establishment not only scrambling to explain the rise, but also putting forward fresh arguments to ban the party.
The latest broadside comes from the German Institute for Human Rights (DIMR), which has labeled the party “dangerous” for democracy. The institute argues that the conditions for banning the AfD are all there in its latest report, with the institute stating that the party is taking “active and planned action to implement its racist and right-wing extremist goals.”
Critics have already pointed out that the DIMR is actually funded by the German government, which is led by rival parties that have significant motive to remove the AfD from the political landscape. As Remix News previously reported, the AfD has hit a new record high of 19 percent, and polling shows that nearly 30 percent of Germans would consider voting for the party.
Another factor is adding additional fuel for critics claiming the study is biased: The author of the study, Hendrik Cremer, is a member of the Green party’s Heinrich Böll Foundation. The Green party has long advocated for the entire AfD party to be banned to “protect democracy.”
What does the report say?
The report claims the AfD is working to “shift the boundaries of what can be said, and thus the discourse, in such a way that a habituation to its racist, national-ethnic positions — including in the public and political sphere — takes place.” Overall, the analysis says the party is striving to eliminate the guarantees enshrined in Article 1 of the Basic Law. There it says: “Human dignity is inviolable. To respect and protect it is the obligation of every state authority.”
The analysis, entitled “Why the AfD could be banned, recommendations for the state and politics,” goes on to say:
“It is of elementary importance for the defense of the indispensable foundations of human rights and thus of the free democratic basic order that awareness of the danger posed by the AfD increases both throughout society and on the state side, and that state and political actors act accordingly.” This danger can only be effectively countered, the report claims, “if the other parties at the federal, state and local levels unmistakably distance themselves from the AfD.”
How would the AfD be banned?
Welt newspaper writes about how a ban is being discussed and how it would actually be implemented: “It is currently one of the most hotly debated topics in political Berlin: the rise of the Alternative for Germany. Politicians and observers are currently discussing the reasons for the right-wing party’s success in the polls. It is therefore a remarkable time for an analysis published by the German Institute for Human Rights on Wednesday.”
The only institution in Germany that could ban the AfD is the Constitutional Court, which has only banned two parties in the past, the NSDAP successor organization called the Socialist Reich Party (SRP) and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). According to past case law, a party ban is “the sharpest weapon of the democratic constitutional state against its organized enemies.”
Such a ban would work based on the argument that a party “works towards the elimination of the free-democratic basic order through planned action and that successful action by the party is also possible.” According to the court’s law, it would be a “preventative measure.,” and a ban is “not about averting dangers that have already arisen, but preventing the emergence of future dangers to the free democratic basic order.”
Not everyone agrees on a ban
The domestic spokesman for the SPD in the Bundestag, Sebastian Hartmann, told Welt that the AfD is an “anti-constitutional organization” with an “ever-faster spiral of radicalization.” He said it is right that the AfD is being observed by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) as a suspected case in the area of right-wing extremism.
“Nevertheless, our primary goal remains to put the AfD in a political position so that it is no longer elected to our parliaments,” said Hartmann.
The vice-chairman of the CDU faction, Andrea Lindholz, said: “A discussion about an AfD ban leads in the wrong direction. In the end, only the AfD itself benefits from this because it can present itself as a victim again.” A political debate is needed, the CSU politician continued. “We have to keep making it clear to people that the AfD is pursuing a purely destructive policy.”
MEPs from the FDP and the Left Party took a similar line of argument. FDP parliamentary group leader Konstantin Kuhle said it would be a “wrong signal” to push forward with a ban due to the AfD’s current high poll numbers. He said it was up to the other parties to win back AfD voters.
“But it must be clear: You cannot win back AfD voters at any price. Because otherwise, you are sinning against the democratic and social center,” he said.
Jan Korte, parliamentary manager of the Left party, said: “The debate about a party ban distracts from the real problem, namely that the AfD must be fought politically. The AfD polls always rise when the uncertainty increases.
”Instead of treating the population ‘from above’ as with the heating law, politicians must take care of the lower and middle classes again,” Korte said. “The best immediate measure against the AfD would be a strong welfare state.”