The populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party will not be banned despite threats from the ruling German government, an expert on the matter has said. (Peter Caddle/Brussels Signal)

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AfD ‘will not be banned’, despite German Government threats


Germany’s populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party will not be banned despite threats from the Government, according to one prominent academic.

Amid the group’s continued growth, more mainstream politicians in the country have voiced support for a nationwide ban on the party, alleging its members want to undermine German democracy.

Such proscription is allowed for in the country’s post-war Constitution, which provides the State with the ability to ban parties deemed to be a “threat to liberal democracy”.

Speaking to Justin Stares, the Head of News at Brussels Signal, on January 23, German political expert Professor Werner J Patzelt said there was little chance of a Government-led campaign to ban the group succeeding.

According to the senior researcher at the Brussels-based MCC think-tank, if politicians in the country really felt the party posed a danger to German democracy, efforts would have already begun to ban it.

“Nobody has really taken seriously the challenge of bringing the case to the Federal Constitutional Court,” he said.

“Many in Germany think the main reason for this is that political leaders opposing the AfD are not convinced themselves that they would be successful at the Federal Constitutional Court,” he added.

Patzelt cited the Government’s continued failure to ban the hard-right Die Heimat party – which has been accused of anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism on numerous occasions – with the country’s courts always finding a reason not to proscribe the group.

He added that the AfD’s widening support also makes implementing a ban difficult, as doing so could harm the reputation of Germany as a democracy.

“If one-third of the German voters want to vote for the AfD, what would be the effect of banning the AfD?,” he asked.

“Would it support or increase legitimacy in Germany, or would it bring the country from polarisation to a pre-civil war situation?

“Nothing will be done,” he concluded. “The AfD will not be banned and whether the AfD will become a more normal party or a more radical party, nobody knows so far.”

While the German academic was sceptical that any attempt to bar the AfD would succeed, he also shot down any idea that the party would see enough success to enter even state-level governments anytime soon.

Patzelt noted that the party was likely to win all three of the coming state elections due to take place in the East of the country in September but that such success would not enable AfD to take control of any of these states.

“Being the largest party does not necessarily mean having an absolute majority of seats in parliament, which seems to not be achievable by the AfD,” he said.

“All other parties can make a coalition against the strongest party,” he added, arguing that while this would go against the previous traditions of German democracy, it was nevertheless the suspected outcome among political analysts.

“There is no chance for the AfD to take over any Eastern governments,” he added.
“And there is a great probability that the Christian Democratic Union and the former Left Party [Die Linke] will go into coalition if they can avoid the AfD seizing power.”

Patzelt added that the party would likely see its support grow further as a result of being kept out of power, saying he saw the Christian Democrats as being in particular danger of losing voters to the AfD.

The full video interview can be found on the Brussels Signal homepage