Centre-left President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier has warned the country’s citizens not to vote for the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party, describing it as a threat to democracy.
The former Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader made the thinly veiled warning during a speech commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Herrenchiemsee convention, a central event in the drafting of Germany’s Constitution. He did not mention the party by name, though German media was certain as to the target of his invective.
Speaking at a special ceremony to commemorate the meeting, Steinmeier stated that any German who opted to vote for the AfD was guilty of a grievous moral offence.
He added that “no responsible voter” could permit themselves to vote for the party, as it would amount to supporting the “brutalisation of our society and the undermining of free democracy”.
Steinmeier interspersed the criticisms with attacks on the historic Nazi regime led by Adolf Hitler, comparing the political situation of the 1930s with the modern day.
Despite such attacks, which have become increasingly common in the country over the last number of months the AfD has seen rapid growth in nationwide polling in recent weeks and now stands as the second-most popular party in the country.
The group now lags behind only the centre-right Christian Democrats, having long since eclipsed every party in the country’s ruling coalition government.
President Steinmeier has repeatedly expressed frustration at the increasing popularity of the AfD, describing its continued growth as “worrying”.
“We must not encourage the business of fear-mongers in this society any further,” he said, insisting that voters in the country must always take “responsibility” for whomever they choose to support.
AfD representatives have hit back at the suggestion they are enemies of the country’s Constitution.
“Understanding and supporting the [Constitution] is the best motivation to vote AfD,” Thomas Seitz, a member of the German Bundestag, wrote online.
He went on to criticise Steinmeier’s background on the subject, with the president having been linked to alleged “anti-constitution” organisations in the past.
In his youth, Steinmeier served as editor of a left-wing magazine monitored by German authorities, who suspected that the publication wanted to undermine the country’s constitution.
Antifa Frankfurt has publicised the personal details of AfD members, arguing their action is legitimate as they consider the party to be “far-right” and “fascistic”. https://t.co/hMgMofgBaH
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 9, 2023