The German internal security service BfV considers the right-wing populist party Alternative für Deutschland as a potential threat to democracy. The service claims to have found clear indications of extremism among key figures in the party.
The BfV has identified the party as‘ suspicious’. This means that AfD can be vetted using espionage tools such as eavesdropping, e-mail monitoring and the use of informants.
It is the first time since the Second World War that a whole party sitting in parliament has been labeled in this way.
Two years ago, the gathering of evidence against the party began. “In recent months, the Secret Service has produced a 1000 page report based on public sources, such as social media and speeches by party leaders,” says correspondent Wouter Zwart. “The service says: we now have so many indications of widespread extremist behavior within the party, that we are now scaling up.”
The decision of the security services does not fall from the sky, tweets Zwart:
“ There have been several incidents in recent years involving senior party members, such as the group chairman in Brandenburg,” says correspondent Zwart. “It was discovered that he had a neo-Nazi past. And the spokesman for the national party was fired because he called himself fascist.”
Since 2017, the AfD has been the third largest group in the Bundestag, as the largest opposition party. The AfD is also represented in all 16 Länder parliaments.
Afd‘ers call the decision of the BfV politically motivated. “Intelligence should not officially announce the decision, but it has been leaked to the press to influence the elections,” tweets Co-Chairman and MP Tino Chrupalla.
“ There is nothing official so far,” responds Stephan Brandner, also a member of parliament for the AfD. “It’s transparent and illegal.” According to Brandner, it shows that the chief of the security service is on the hands of traditional political parties.
The ultrareright wing of the party was already under the supervision of the German Security Service a year ago, because the leaders of the so-called Der Flügel were seen as right-wing extremists.
Last year the BfV Security Service said that supporters of Der Flügel promote xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and an anti-democratic ideology.
Not much later, the ultrarright branch lifted itself up, although the oversight by the court was partially lifted. The security service assumes that Der Flügel is still influential within the AfD.
Correspondent Wouter Zwart was in 2019 on election campaign with the AfD in Saxony:
German justice and intelligence services have been paying special attention to right-wing extremism in the country for some time. The number of people considered to be right-wing extremist has increased sharply. In 2018 there were about 24,000, a year later more than 32,000 were recorded.
The increase is partly due to the fact that members of the youth department of the AfD and of Der Flügel were included as right-wing extremes.