The protection of the constitution could classify the AfD as a right-wing extremist suspected case. Associations direct clear appeals to the officials in the party.
BERLIN taz | The warnings are clear: “Officials have to distance themselves crystal clear from extremists, there is no discussion,” says Ulrich Silberbach, chairman of the civil servants’ association, the taz. “And if the constitution protection in the AfD sees extremist efforts, then it is important to keep your distance here.”
Jörg Radek, Deputy Head of the Police Union (GdP), emphasizes very similarly: “The police service and commitment to the AfD do not go together. The more attentively the Office for the Protection of the Constitution looks at the AfD, the greater the distance between our officials must be. “
The announcements are not made without a reason. Because next week the protection of the constitution could announce how it deals with the AfD. And there is much to suggest that a right-wing extremist suspected case is being upgraded. With this, the secret service would for the first time attest the AfD as a whole “weighty indications for anti-constitutional efforts”. From now on, intelligence tools such as telephone surveillance or informants could also be used against the party.
The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution itself had announced a decision in early 2021, but it is currently silent. In safety circles, however, a classification is assumed. Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) was buttoned up on Wednesday. A spokesman denied the report that Seehofer had already agreed to the classification. The ministry has the technical supervision of the procedure and examines it legally – a defeat against the AfD in court should be avoided at all costs.
Already classified as a test case in 2019
Two years ago the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution classified the AfD as a test case. The right-wing extremist “wing” around Björn Höcke and Andreas Kalbitz and the AfD youth were already rated by the secret service as a suspected case, one level higher. In March 2020, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution even declared the “wing” to be a full object of observation: it was a “proven extremist effort”.
The “wing” dissolved as a result. His supporters around Höcke remained active in the AfD. Kalbitz, on the other hand, was excluded from the party for formal reasons – against which he is still legally defending himself. However, the protection of the constitution recently made it clear that the “wings” people in the AfD continue to have an impact. Apparently, the recent appeal by party leader Jörg Meuthen to moderate himself has not changed anything.
If it is actually classified as a suspected case, the nervousness of the officials in the AfD is likely to increase. Because they are committed to loyalty to the constitution and to political moderation. There are several police officers and members of the armed forces among the AfD members of the Bundestag and the state parliaments. Björn Höcke is a teacher, the Saxon right-winger Jens Maier is a judge, and Thomas Seitz from Baden-Württemberg is a public prosecutor.
As early as 2019, after the AfD was first classified, Seehofer had obtained an expert opinion. The result: a mere membership in a party that is classified by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution as an investigative or suspected case remains inconsequential under civil service law. Individual behavior is decisive. Exposed posts, all the more so from the “Wingians” who have already been declared anti-constitutional, could become a problem here. Always check on a case-by-case basis. In 2018, Seitz, who was close to the wing, was actually stripped of its official status.
For Beamtenbund boss Silberbach it is clear: “Anyone who does not have both feet firmly on the ground of the Basic Law cannot be an official. It is obvious that there are right-wing extremist tendencies in parts of the AfD and that the party has not distanced itself sufficiently. “
The AfD wants to counter it legally
GdP Vice Radek also welcomes the fact that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution is “looking closely at the AfD”. For police officers there could be “no both-and” here. The political aspirations of the AfD “run contrary to the principles and values of a democratic and social constitutional state and an open civil society”. Radek refers to the “taboo breaking” by AfD politicians, the shifting of the discourse “into the unbearable”. And further: “You are therefore jointly responsible for a social division.”
And Federal Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) also warned the officials in the AfD. The membership of members of the armed forces in an organization that is assessed by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution as a suspected extremist case represents “basically a real clue for efforts against the free democratic basic order” for the military counter-intelligence service, said a spokesman for the taz. This does not necessarily have to result in a breach of service, but should be checked in each individual case. The spokesman emphasized: “Soldiers are obliged to recognize the free democratic basic order within the meaning of the Basic Law and to stand up for its preservation through all behavior.”
The AfD wants to counter it legally
The AfD wants to file lawsuits against it in the event of a classification. “As we have repeatedly announced, we will defend ourselves legally against it,” said AfD boss Tino Chrupalla.
With its own working group, the party also tried to evade observation, also with a view to the officials in its ranks. On Wednesday, party circles also circulated an “interim report” classified as “classified information” by the Berlin Office for the Protection of the Constitution on the local AfD regional association and a possible one Classification as a suspected case. There it is said that for the Berlin AfD there has so far been “no sufficient actual evidence of anti-constitutional efforts”.
Although some statements are “roughly generalizing”, there is “only a few content that can be assessed in the border area between a radical statement and an extremist position”. In addition, the dissolution of the “wing” speaks for a commitment to the basic order – a position that is likely to be quite unique in the constitution protection group. There they consider the resolution to be purely tactically motivated.
Berlin’s Interior Senator Andreas Geisel (SPD) reacted immediately. The report was “by no means finalized” and contained “methodological deficiencies”, announced its administration. “The existing findings have not been adequately assessed according to the standards applicable to the protection of the constitution.” It is a “still ongoing, open-ended process”.
Geisel announced a criminal complaint for betrayal of secrets because the report to the AfD had been pierced. There will also be personal consequences for this. Geisel denied any political influence on the examination: he had not yet known the report. The Berlin left also spoke of a “tangible scandal”. Apparently there are sympathizers of the extreme right in the security authorities. The Greens demanded a “relentless reappraisal and a subsequent new beginning” in the state office.
The AfD is likely to use the report as fodder for its defense against the protection of the constitution. It was not until Monday that the party responded to the accusation of Völkisch with a declaration, also signed by Höcke. It says that they are “unreservedly committed to the German nation as the sum of all persons who have German citizenship”, regardless of the “ethnic and cultural background”. Nonetheless, it is legitimate to “want to preserve the German people, their language and their long-term traditions”.
But many in the party suspect that this will no longer help them. The declaration is more likely to be ammunition for a future legal dispute with the constitution protection. AfD parliamentary group leader Alexander Gauland had recently announced that observation by the protection of the Constitution would not be able to escape. He appealed to the party not to be impressed. On one point, however, Gauland expressed a fear in 2019: “In the long term, I’m worried that we will lose the officials.”