AfD designated ‘extremist’ in third German region
Authorities in the German region of Saxony have designated the local branch of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party as an extremist group. The move follows similar decisions in Thuringia and Sachsen-Anhalt, while the party is accused of being a “suspected case” of right-wing extremism at the federal level.
The AfD registered 18.4% of the vote in the Hesse regional election in October, its best ever performance in a western German state, and far ahead of its rivals in the country’s ruling ‘traffic light’ coalition. It has also enjoyed growing support in its traditional eastern strongholds, with a recent Spiegel poll putting it in first place with 32% of the vote in the former German Democratic Republic.
Critics have accused the AfD of pursuing xenophobic and anti-Muslim policies, accusations that the party denies.
On Friday, the president of the Saxon branch of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Dirk-Martin Christian, stated that “there are no more doubts as to the right-wing extremist orientation of AfD Saxony.” The authorities reached their conclusion after monitoring the party’s local section closely for the past four years.
The legal status means that the BfV can now deploy surveillance and intelligence means to gather information about the AfD’s activities without restriction.
The security service further claimed that the organization “pursues an anti-constitutional agenda,” citing statements by senior members of the Saxony AfD branch. Christian in particular referenced the AfD branch’s stance on immigration, which he characterized as “so-called ethno-pluralism.”
“According to [the AfD’s position], the acquisition of German citizenship would be determined exclusively by ethnic-biological as well as cultural criteria,” the official claimed.
Christian also accused Saxon AfD leaders of publicly defaming migrants, especially Muslims.
In addition, the AfD branch was accused of using veiled anti-Semitic cliches and engaging in the “general vilification of our democracy” by “publicly defam[ing] state institutions as well as their representatives.”
The AfD garnered 27.5% of the vote during the last regional election in Saxony in 2019.
Following an unprecedentedly strong showing in regional elections in the state of Hesse and Bavaria in October, the AFD’s co-leader Alice Weidel proclaimed that the political force was “no longer an eastern phenomenon, but has become a major all-German party.”