Germany’s Government is examining the possibility of banning the populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party from receiving State funding.
It comes as the AfD sees record polling across Germany, with up to 24 per cent of the country’s population saying they now support it.
Such success has prompted calls for the party to be banned, with leftist activists insisting that the group poses an “existential threat” to democracy, although such demands have proven controversial.
Ruling MPs have instead floated the idea that the AfD could be “defunded” by the Government over its political views, rather than banned outright.
Officials from both the ruling Greens and Social Democratic Party (SPD) are now backing the move, which is provided for within the German Constitution as a means of combating right-wing parties deemed “too extreme”.
“It is an important element of the ‘defensive State’ to significantly reduce State resources for anti-Constitutional parties,” said SPD MP Johannes Fechner.
Green representative Irene Mihalic also backed defunding the AfD as a possible way of disrupting its growing strength, although she warned such a move would not be “straightforward”.
“Just as with a party ban, the Constitutional bodies are required to carefully weigh up legal steps, taking into account the assessment of the security authorities,” she warned.
The viability of the move will likely become clearer on January 23, with Germany’s Constitutional Court scheduled to issue a final ruling on the Government’s efforts to cut funding for Die Heimat, a far-Right party accused of being linked to neo-Nazism.
Politicians had tried to get it banned outright in 2017 but such efforts were ultimately scuttled after the courts ruled the group was too small to pose a threat to German democracy.
During a topical European Parliament plenary debate on Tuesday evening, liberal and left-wing MEPs called for the heads of Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party. https://t.co/d2UGJ9A7Np
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) January 18, 2024
Questions surrounding whether or not State power can be used to crush the AfD have abounded in recent months. That comes amid the group’s record polling spooking many in the country’s mainstream parties.
Fears regarding such growth have been made worse by the release of recent polls, which for the first time include the new Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance – Reason and Justice (BSW) party.
While many had hoped the hard-Left “anti-woke” BSW would act as a spoiler for its right-wing rival, recent surveys indicate the AfD has lost little or no support since its launch.
It seems the new party is instead taking the majority of its base from other Left-wing groups, including the SPD.
Speaking about the AfD’s continued growth, the head of the centre-right Christian Democrats Friedrich Merz warned that efforts to label the party “national socialist” have not been productive, seeming to have only alienated its supporters.
“Of course, there are real National Socialists [in] there,” he remarked. “But that doesn’t mean that the voters of this party are all Nazis.
“If we want to win them back for the democratic parties in our country, then we must not insult them,” he added.
More than 1 million people have signed a petition demanding that the Government strip Björn Höcke, the AfD party’s chief in the State of Thuringia, of his right to vote or take part in politics. https://t.co/tmmZk4DS0s
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) January 17, 2024