Any banning of the populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party would result in serious "collateral damage" for Germany, a senior politician in the country has warned. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)


AfD ban could backfire, leading Social Democrat warns

Any proscription would likely be met with backlash due to the growing support for the AfD, according to the Government’s Commissioner for East Germany


A ban on the populist German party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) would result in “collateral damage” for the country, a senior politician has warned.

Carsten Schneider of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Government’s Commissioner for East Germany, said the populist party is a “right-wing extremist” organisation but argued any attempt to ban it solely for that reason could do more harm than good.

“A party ban would be very difficult to enforce,” Schneider told news portal Süddeutsche Zeitung, saying he thought the chances such a gambit would achieve legal success were “slim”.

Even if it did, the Commissioner warned that any proscription would likely be met with backlash due to the growing support for the AfD.

“If we ban a party that we don’t like, but that is consistently ahead in the polls, then that will lead to even greater solidarity with it,” he warned, saying such a move could even entice neutral citizens to back to the group.

“The collateral damage would be very high.”

Speaking of how the AfD should be tackled, Scheider argued that centrist and left-wing politicians ought to focus on putting up a united front against the party.

“The silent middle must rise up to preserve this democracy,” he declared, saying that the SPD, Christian Democrats, Greens, Free Democrats and Die Linke now needed to team up to “crush” AfD.

“Everyone has to help. We cannot simply get rid of this task by banning the AfD.”

Schneider is not the first politician to call for an anti-AfD front.

Every major party has largely adhered to the so-called “firewall” principle against the AfD, refusing to either enter into any coalitions or even do business with it at the state, federal and European levels.

The success of this policy is however moot, with some speculating that preventing the party from ruling some German States will become impossible after the elections later this year.