The Saxony-Anhalt chapter of Alternative for Germany (AfD) has been classified as an extremist organization and can be considered an enemy of democracy, the head of the domestic intelligence agency in that German federal state said on Tuesday. The state branch of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution – also known as the Verfassungsschutz, or BfV – has been investigating the party since January 2021, over its opposition to Covid-19 lockdowns and mandates. State BfV head Jochen Hollmann told the outlet MDR that the party “not only continues to represent anti-constitutional positions”, but has become so radicalized that “systematic observation using intelligence means is justified”.
Moreover, according to the security service, AfD aims to “abolish parliamentary democracy” by challenging the legitimacy of German federal authorities, such as calling their actions during the pandemic totalitarian and comparing them to the persecution of Jews under the Third Reich, and using “anti-Semitic terms” such as the ‘Great Reset’ conspiracy theory. The BfV has compiled a hundred-page dossier containing “numerous anti-Muslim, racist and anti-Semitic statements” by party officials, as well as defamatory statements calling migrants “invaders”, “intruders” and “passport Germans”, among other things.
AfD desires an “ethno-culturally homogeneous nation” and calls for the exclusion of people based on their origin or religion, according to Hollman. AfD is now classified with “confirmed right-wing extremist” aspirations, which is the highest tier of threat used by the BfV.
“I’m not interested in what the BfV claims,” AfD lawmaker Oliver Kirchner told MDR, calling the designation purely political. Kirchner pointed to a recent poll that showed AfD with 33% support in the state, one point ahead of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and far ahead of the ruling “traffic light coalition” parties.
The party has made news recently, with their support in Saxony-Anhalt and their major gains in state elections in Bavaria, and Hesse. The designation comes less than a month after AfD’s election victory in those areas. Saxony-Anhalt, located in the former East Germany, is the second federal state to label its chapter of AfD as extremist, after nearby Thuringia did so in 2021.
This is a significant development in German politics, as the BfV does not make such a decision lightly and does so on the basis of concrete evidence of violations of the Constitution and laws designed to protect the sovereignty of the German State. It reflects growing concerns about the rise of right-wing extremism in Germany and the threat it poses to the country’s democratic institutions. The move is likely to have significant implications for the future of AfD and its political activities in Saxony-Anhalt and across Germany as a whole.