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Far-right AfD suffers German court defeat


Roman Reusch, member of Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, after the verdict. /Ina Fassbender/AFP
Roman Reusch, member of Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, after the verdict. /Ina Fassbender/AFP

Roman Reusch, member of Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, after the verdict. /Ina Fassbender/AFP

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) has suffered a bitter defeat as a court threw out its bid to stop Germany's intelligence services from investigating it as a suspected right-wing extremist organization.

The ruling is another blow for the AfD ahead of key EU and regional elections.

The legal dispute started in 2021 when the domestic intelligence agency, the BfV, labeled the AfD a "suspected" right-wing extremist group, giving authorities more power to gather intelligence on it.

The party challenged the move in the courts but on Monday the Higher Administrative Court in Muenster, western Germany rejected the AfD's appeal.

The party "has no right to demand that the BfV refrain from monitoring it", said the court, adding that existing laws "provide a sufficient legal basis for observation as a suspected case".

The court has been hearing arguments in the case since March.

The AfD's lawyers claimed statements made by its members, which have been collected by the BfV as evidence to support their arguments, were "the aberrations of individuals" and should not be attributed to the party as a whole, which has some 45,000 members. 

But the lawyer representing the BfV said the statements, highlighting what it says are extremism, were "not just the individual opinions of a few people". 

They were taken from a large number of statements by high-ranking officials and elected representatives with considerable political influence, and have a "very clear" impact on political life in Germany, the lawyer said.

In 2022 a lower court in Cologne had already dismissed an appeal against the BfV's move to label the AfD a suspected right-wing extremist group, leading the party to turn to the Muenster court.


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Posting on X, formerly Twitter, Chancellor Olaf Scholz hailed the ruling as evidence that "our constitutional state protects our democracy - also against threats from within."

Created in 2013 as an anti-euro outfit before morphing into an anti-immigration party, the AfD last year enjoyed a resurgence as Germany struggled with a surge in migration and a weak economy.

But its popularity has wavered amid the recent scandals, and Monday's verdict will heap further pressure on the party.

It comes just weeks before European Parliament elections, at which the AfD -- like other far-right parties in Europe - is hoping to make gains.

And in September three eastern German states, where the party has been leading in the polls, will hold closely-watched elections.

Some German media reported Monday the court ruling could clear the way for the intelligence services to take a further step against the AfD by labeling it a "confirmed" right-wing extremist group, which would give authorities further powers to monitor them. 

Several local branches of the party have already been given this classification.

In January, an investigation by media group Correctiv indicated AfD members had discussed the idea of mass deportations at a meeting with extremists, leading to a wave of protests across the country.

On Tuesday a court is due to deliver a verdict on whether Bjoern Hoecke, an AfD member and one of Germany's most controversial politicians, deliberately used a Nazi slogan at a rally.

Far-right AfD suffers German court defeat

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Source(s): AFP
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