In the ARD "Germany trend", the AfD had recently drawn level with the SPD nationwide with 18 percent. © Sebastian Christoph Gollnow/dpa
The hurdles for a party to be banned are very high in Germany. Nevertheless, the German Institute for Human Rights is of the opinion that nothing would stand in the way of a ban on the AfD.
The German Institute for Human Rights (DIMR) now considers the conditions for a ban on the AfD to be met. In a recent analysis by the institute, which has the legal mandate to prevent human rights violations, it is said that the party is "actively and systematically pursuing its racist and right-wing extremist goals."
For example, the AfD is working on "pushing the boundaries of what can be said and thus the discourse in such a way that people get used to their racist national-völkisch positions - also in the public and political sphere".
Overall, the party is striving to eliminate the guarantees enshrined in Article 1 of the Basic Law. It states: "Human dignity is inviolable. Respecting and protecting them is the duty of all state authorities."
AfD: Procedure would have no chance
The AfD rejected the arguments of the Human Rights Institute. A party spokesman said on Wednesday: "We have no doubt that proceedings against the AfD before the Federal Constitutional Court would have no chance." The reason for the DIMR's advance is obviously the rising values for the AfD in voter polls for weeks. They saw the party at about 18 percent and thus on a par with the SPD.
The institute's analysis, entitled "Why the AfD Could Be Banned, Recommendations to the State and Politics," states: "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 in society as a whole and on the part of the state, and that state and political actors act accordingly." This danger can only be effectively countered "if the other parties at the federal, state and local levels unequivocally distinguish themselves from the AfD."
Influence of Höcke on the course of the AfD
One factor that proves the danger posed by the AfD from the point of view of the DIMR is the influence of the Thuringian state and parliamentary group chairman of the AfD, Björn Höcke, on the course of the party, which has grown in recent years. In its analysis, the institute notes that Höcke is a leading voice in the AfD even without a post at the federal level, with numerous supporters who followed him nationwide.
According to the DIMR, the growing influence of Björn Höcke on the course of the AfD is a factor in the party's outgoing danger. © Michael Reichel/dpa
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The DIMR is the independent National Human Rights Institution of Germany. The institute is financed from the budget of the Bundestag. In addition to a possible ban on the party, it also discusses other consequences in its analysis, such as the application of gun law against AfD members or disciplinary law when it comes to civil servants, soldiers or judges who support the AfD.
DMIR wants to fill "void" in debate
The author of the analysis, Hendrik Cremer, emphasized that the institute is not in favor of a motion to ban political parties. Rather, the DIMR is concerned with filling a "void" in the social and legal debate. "We recommend that eligible applicants prepare material on an ongoing basis in order to be able to act," he added.
According to the Basic Law, parties "which, according to their goals or the conduct of their supporters, aim to impair or eliminate the free democratic basic order or to endanger the existence of the Federal Republic of Germany" are unconstitutional. In addition, there must be an actively combative, aggressive attitude towards the free democratic basic order, which the party aims to abolish, as well as concrete indications that achieving the anti-constitutional goals does not seem completely hopeless.
In the history of the Federal Republic of Germany, two parties have been banned: the National Socialist-oriented Socialist Reich Party (SRP) in 1952 and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) in 1956.
The first of two unsuccessful ban proceedings against the right-wing extremist NPD was discontinued in 2003 because of the large number of informants that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution also had in the party's leadership. A second application was rejected by the Federal Constitutional Court in 2017 because the importance of the party was considered too low.
Thuringia's Minister of the Interior for prohibition proceedings
Last December, Thuringia's Interior Minister Georg Maier spoke out in favour of a ban procedure against the AfD. He told the "taz" at the time: "I am of the opinion that the ban procedure should be prepared now." In Thuringia, the party is being monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution because of its extremist tendencies.
In March 2021, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution had classified the entire party as a suspected right-wing extremist case - an assessment that was confirmed about a year later in the first instance by the Cologne Administrative Court. The AfD is defending itself against this legally. The proceedings at the Higher Administrative Court in Münster are still ongoing.
Usually, in the case of a suspected case, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution checks after about two years whether the suspicion has been substantiated or not. In the case of the AfD, however, it is not to be expected that this decision will be made before the conclusion of the court proceedings. However, the President of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Thomas Haldenwang, sees the party continuously on the way "to the far right". Even the classification as a suspected case allows his agency to use intelligence resources. This includes, among other things, observation and obtaining information about informants from the respective scene. Dpa