High Polling for Germany’s Far-Right AfD Despite Legal Scrutiny

High Polling for Germany's Far-Right AfD Despite Legal Scrutiny

High Polling for Germany's Far-Right AfD Despite Legal Scrutiny

Germany’s far-right AfD party has been deemed by experts as increasingly accepting of its extremist members, despite allegations of criminal activities. However, this has not diminished its backing in specific regions of the nation.

Correctiv, a nonprofit investigative newsroom based in Germany, has carried out an analysis of 48 members affiliated with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. The individuals in question are facing allegations of brutal physical assaults, verbal abuse, and incitement to hatred.

The German judiciary has investigated 28 of them, issuing sentences from lower courts or penalty orders, which they can challenge. Despite facing legal actions, a significant number of them continue to hold positions as lawmakers in the German Bundestag, state parliaments, or local councils.

From a legal standpoint, none of these individuals are at risk of facing repercussions. In Germany, the right to run for office or be elected to a public position is only revoked in cases involving serious crimes such as murder, manslaughter, or rape.

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Targeted Smear Campaigns: Defamation and Vilification Against AfD

Correctiv also analyzed the legal documents of politicians belonging to different political parties, including the Left, the Greens, as well as the conservative, social democratic, and liberal parties. However, they have not found any similar misconduct among politicians belonging to these parties.

Martin Reichardt, a member of the AfD’s federal board, criticized Correctiv’s reporting, labeling it a “source of falsehoods” that has initiated “defamation and vilification campaigns against the AfD.” In 2023, the police in Erfurt investigated Reichardt after he made derogatory remarks about President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, but they eventually closed the investigation.

Numerous politicians from different political parties have expressed their concerns regarding the threat posed by the AfD. Thorsten Frei, the chair of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU)/Christian Social Union (CSU) faction in the Bundestag, personally believes that lawmakers accused of offenses are “unsuitable for public office.” He warned that undermining the foundations of parliamentary democracy could occur.

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Inside link to Russia’s Disinformation Network

Correctiv’s revelation in January exposed key AfD members participating in a contentious conference late last year, openly discussing plans to deport individuals from Germany, leading to mounting scrutiny on the party. These plans even included the deportation of individuals holding German passports.

The disclosure sparked a series of protests against the far right throughout Germany, with millions taking to the streets in numerous towns and cities.

In early April, the Czech government alleged that it suspected an online Russian disinformation network of having connections to the AfD. The government claimed that Moscow utilized the far-right platform Voice of Europe to undermine Ukraine and influence EU politics. Further allegations suggest that AfD politicians received payments for their involvement.

The AfD has refuted these allegations and has persisted in its counteroffensive against media organizations, government bodies, and other political parties.

Party’s Radicalization on the Rise

The party is experiencing a growing trend towards radicalization. Recent party conferences have seen an increase in support for more radical members. The Young Alternative for Germany, the youth wing of the AfD, was labeled as “right-wing extremist” by Germany’s domestic intelligence service, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, in the previous year. Despite being controversial within its own ranks, this group is now receiving more backing.

Experts believe that the party as a whole is progressively becoming more radical, as radical forces within the party find solidarity and face little sanctioning, even in the face of political scandals. This has put internal pressure on more moderate forces, leading some less radical members to leave the party. Notably, individuals like Björn Höcke, the party’s leader in Thuringia, who were once considered very extreme, are now setting the tone.

Björn Höcke, a former history teacher, is facing a second trial this month for allegedly uttering a Nazi slogan previously used by the paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party, the Sturmabeilung. He has denied these accusations. Recent polls indicate that the AfD currently enjoys over 30% support in Thuringia and other states in eastern Germany.

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