The far-right AfD party vowed a “new era” as it made its debut Tuesday at the first sitting of Germany's newly-elected parliament, where it immediately made its disruptive force felt.
Setting the tone of more conflictual parliamentary sessions in the next four years, Alternative for Germany (AfD) was first off the mark in filing a motion to challenge a change in parliamentary rules that thwarted one of its lawmakers from making the opening speech in the lower house.
As the motion was immediately defeated by the rest of the lawmakers, the AfD's parliamentary group chief Bernd Baumann wrongly drew a comparison to a move he claimed Goering made in 1933 to block communist MP Clara Zetkin from opening the sitting.
German news agency DPA swiftly corrected Baumann's account, noting that Goering's action had actually blocked a member of his own party rather than Zetkin from opening parliament that year.
Nevertheless, the AfD's quip drew gasps from the floor and was slammed as “tasteless” by Marco Buschmann of the liberal FDP party.
Greens lawmaker Jürgen Trittin also condemned the AfD for having “the audacity to put themselves in the same line as the victims of Nazis”.
But that flare-up appeared to be a harbinger of future Bundestag sittings, as the AfD's leading figures have repeatedly smashed taboos by staking claims to German identity and challenging Germany's culture of atonement over World War II and the Holocaust.
“Take note: the old Bundestag has been voted out. The people have decided, a new era begins now,” said Baumann.
“From this hour on, the issues will be renegotiated — not your manoeuvres and tricks on parliamentary business but the euro, massive debt, enormous immigration numbers, open borders and brutal criminality in our streets,” he vowed.
But beyond the AfD, Chancellor Angela Merkel's former coalition partner, the venerable Social Democratic Party, also took on a combative tone as it took its seats on the opposition benches.
In the party's first speech at the house, senior SPD lawmaker Carsten Schneider hit out at Merkel, saying she is “the reason that we have a right-wing populist party here”.
The frontal attack was met with shock by Merkel's CDU party, with general secretary Peter Tauber condemning it on Twitter, saying “First shenanigans not coming from the AfD, but from the elderly aunt SPD. How low has she sunk!”