German court upholds ‘suspected extremist’ label in major blow to AfD

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German court upholds 'suspected extremist' label in major blow to AfD

Germany's intelligence services can classify the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party as a suspected extremist group, a higher regional court ruled on appeal on Monday, dealing a heavy blow to the party in a bumper election year.

Germany's intelligence services had classified both the party and its youth organization, Junge Alternative (JA), as suspected right-wing extremist groups.

There are "sufficient factual indications" of the AfD's endeavours "which are directed against the human dignity of certain groups of people and against the principle of democracy," said presiding judge Gerald Buck.

In the AfD, "derogatory terms towards refugees and Muslims are used on a large scale," he added. According to the Basic Law, which acts as the country's constitution, this is "inadmissible discrimination."

A lower administrative court in Cologne, where the intelligence services are located, confirmed the assessment of the AfD in 2022, allowing the office to monitor the party as a suspected group.

However, the party appealed the decision, which the Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine Westphalia located in Münster has now upheld.

The ruling means that Germany's domestic intelligence services may continue to monitor the party, including through the use of surveillance and obtaining information through informants.

Whether and to what extent the intelligence agency has already made use of these possibilities was left open by the government in an answer to an AfD parliamentary question.

The AfD's signature issue is a hard-line anti-immigration stance, and the party is profiting from increased concern among many German voters over rising numbers of people seeking asylum in the country.

The party had been polling nationally at around 20%, amid high dissatisfaction with Chancellor Olaf Scholz's three-party coalition, but support has dropped to between 16 and 18% following a series of recent scandals.

The ruling comes just weeks before the European Parliament elections and several months before three state elections in eastern Germany, in which the AfD is predicted to do well.

At the beginning of the year, thousands of people across Germany joined demonstrations against extremism in general and the AfD in particular.

The protests were triggered by a report by investigative media outlet Correctiv about a secret meeting attended by members of the AfD and well-known radical right-wingers at which plans of mass deportation were discussed.

Furthermore, Maximilian Krah, a member of the AfD serving in the European Parliament, is under scrutiny by German prosecutors looking into potential payments from Russia and China. The probe has thrown the AfD's Russia-friendly positions back into the national spotlight.

In addition, German police arrested Krah's former assistant Jian Guo on suspicion of espionage on April 22, and Krah fired him following the allegations that the parliamentary aide was spying for China.

The judgement in Münster is not yet legally binding. The AfD can submit another appeal to the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig.

"We will of course appeal to the next instance," said AfD federal board member Roman Reusch in a party statement.

AfD Vice Chairman Peter Boehringer criticized the "insufficient clarification of the facts" with regard to the proceedings.

"Not following up on hundreds of requests for evidence borders on a refusal to work, as in the previous instance, which was the main reason for the appeal."

In explaining the court's decision, presiding judge Buck said the powers of the domestic intelligence services are "by no means limitless," but a resilient democracy must not be a "toothless tiger."

Above all, when monitoring a political party, which comes with high legal hurdles, the intelligence services must be able to present "sufficiently substantiated circumstances" that indicate that a group may be pursuing endeavours against Germany's democratic principles.

The president of the domestic intelligence services, Thomas Haldenwang, said his agency has "won across the board today."

"The sun is shining on our free and democratic basic order," he said.

His agency had presented "countless examples" that provided evidence of anti-constitutional attitudes among a significant proportion of the AfD, including "hatred and agitation against Muslims, against migrants of all kinds," he said.

Germany's Interior Nancy Faeser emphasized the autonomy of the domestic intelligence services. "Today's judgement shows that we are a resilient democracy," Faeser said following the ruling.

The German state has instruments to protect democracy against threats from within, she said. "It is precisely these instruments that are being used – and have now been confirmed once again by an independent court," added the minister, whose area of responsibility includes the domestic intelligence services.

"In a constitutional state, independent courts decide," said Faeser. "We will continue to clearly separate the legal assessment from the political debate that we conduct in parliaments and public debates."


  1. EmilySmith says

    It’s crucial to uphold the label on the AfD as a suspected extremist group given their discriminatory rhetoric and actions. Maintaining vigilance against such threat is essential in preserving the values of democracy and equality.

  2. EmilyJones56 says

    It’s crucial for the intelligence services to closely monitor groups like AfD that pose a threat to democracy and promote discrimination. Upholding the ‘suspected extremist’ label is a necessary step in protecting the values of our society.

  3. SamanthaSmith says

    It’s a significant decision by the court to classify the AfD as a suspected extremist group. The use of derogatory terms towards refugees and Muslims cannot be tolerated. Upholding this classification allows for necessary monitoring to ensure the principles of democracy are upheld.

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