Jens meyer / ap
German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, is constantly looking for potential threats to Germany’s democratic constitutional system, and has broad powers when they do.
“This agency has powers – and not only monitors fringe groups, domestic terrorist threats, but also oversees any political institution, such as political parties,” said Melanie Amann of the German news magazine. Glass and author of a book on Alternatives to Germany, or AfD.
“Like if their program becomes more radical or if they see that a political party, maybe even one sitting in parliament, is heading in a direction that may be dangerous for our political system.”
The agency has completed a two-year investigation into Alternatives to Germany, the country’s largest right-wing opposition party, and is expected to announce soon that it will put the entire party under surveillance for posing a threat to Germany’s political system and violating it. Constitution. The unprecedented move means that all AfD lawmakers, including several dozen in the German parliament, will be under state supervision.
The driving force behind the creation of the Verfassungsschutz body and its surveillance force were the American-led Allied forces, which, after World War II, helped write the new German Constitution with the aim of preventing a return to Nazi ideology. That is why the first article of the constitution guarantees the right to human dignity – that article is a body determine the rightmost branch of the AfD is violated. That placed the group, known as der Flügel (“Wing”), under scrutiny nearly a year ago.
Amann said the agency has identified examples of AfD politicians who belittle Muslim migrants to Germany. “They are all being treated as potential terrorists,” he said. “They are inhuman in speech. They are compared to animals [agency] reports explain that these people have crossed the line. “
Some AfD politicians have also disparaged Nazi Germany’s past. Speaking at the 2017 AfD event, the leader of Flügel’s wing, Bjorn Höcke, called the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin a “monument to shame”. A year later, AfD parliamentary leader Alexander Gauland likened Nazi Germany to “a speck of bird droppings in the more than 1,000 years of successful German history.”
“If you look at how the AfD has behaved for some time now, obviously it is acting against our democracy and our constitution,” said Social Democrat MP Thomas Hitschler, a member of the parliamentary committee that reviews Germany’s intelligence services. He said the Verfassungsschutz agency had spent two years gathering evidence to inform a decision it hopes will put the entire AfD under scrutiny.
But AfD politician Georg Pazderski claims the process is political. It is run by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, which includes members of her own Christian Democratic Conservative party. Pazderski said the CDU is concerned about how quickly the AfD will get to the German parliament; the party now has 88 members out of 709 in the Bundestag, over 12% representation.
“If you have a very successful opposition party in a very short period of time, we are a danger to the ruling party,” Pazderski said, “especially for the conservative CDU. And this is the reason why they are trying to stigmatize us and to really put us in the spotlight. the Nazi corner and also spread strong rumors. “
Hitschler insists that the process is non-political and that the agency’s findings must withstand intense legal scrutiny.
“The decision must be very strict legally so that it can be tried in court,” he said. “The AfD has legal avenues to challenge the ruling, and the agency will not lose face in court with a bad case.”
AfD has prepared the decision. This week, the party published a position paper representing a Turning around in an immigrant perspective, insisted that this was a party for all Germans, even naturalized citizens.
AfD politician Jens Maier, who is already under scrutiny for being part of Flügel, told NPR by email that last year’s decision to put parts of his party under scrutiny had real consequences.
“Many members fear their civilian reputation or even their jobs, especially if they are employed in the public service,” he wrote. “This is clearly an unfair method to bring down the results of the AfD election.” German federal elections are scheduled for September.
The mirror Amann said the tight scrutiny of the AfD would affect civil servants such as police officers and military personnel, who may cancel their membership for fear of losing their jobs.
While the Verfassungsschutz agency can tap phones and use informers to gather information about anyone being monitored, Maier said he doesn’t pay attention to the surveillance. But he says it has changed the way he and his colleagues communicate.
“We no longer talk about secret topics on the phone or online and people from outside contacting us are doing it with caution now, knowing that someone may be listening,” he wrote.
When Germany announced the AfD was under scrutiny, Pazderski said it could expect lawsuits to challenge the decision soon. And that, he said, may take years to complete.
Esme Nicholson contributed to this report from Berlin.
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