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Bremen’s state government wants to push for an AfD party ban

Paul Krantz
Paul Krantz - [email protected]
Bremen’s state government wants to push for an AfD party ban
A demonstration against right-wing extremism and the AfD marches through Bremen's city center. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Focke Strangmann

Germany’s smallest federal state government is pushing to ban the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. What is the procedure for banning political parties in Germany, and would it work against the AfD?

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Bremen’s red-green-red (SPD, Green Party, and Left Party) coalition government says it wants to initiate a procedure to ban the AfD party.

If successful, Bremen could lead the charge to prevent the AfD party from participating in government in Germany, a move that large groups of protestors have advocated for in recent and widespread protests.

Next week, the northern city-state's parliament will decide on a mandate to the Bundesrat to force a review procedure for an AfD ban in the federal government.

As reported by Taz, Sofia Leonidakis, Bremen parliamentary group leader of the Left Party, said that this could be understood "as a mandate to politicians to finally take action now."

She and other parliamentary leaders think that the time to move on an AfD ban is now, in the wake of massive protests that were sparked by a Correctiv exposé which revealed a reported mass-deportation plan supported by top AfD members among others.

READ ALSO: Majority of Germans 'support regional bans' on far-right AfD

The process to ban a political party in Germany

Only the Federal Government, the Bundestag or the Bundesrat, can file an application for a ban before the Federal Constitutional Court.

But before the application for a ban is voted on, Bremen wants to lobby the Bundesrat for the state offices and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution to compile a collection of material on the AfD. 

Then federal leaders would vote as to whether an application for a ban against the AfD must be submitted to the Federal Constitutional Court.

“Today, we are of the opinion that a prohibition review procedure is the right way to go. And I hope that other federal states will follow suit,” Henrike Müller, Green Party member of Bremen parliament, told Tagesschau.

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Is there enough support to achieve an AfD ban?

Not all of the members of the Bremen coalition agree that there is sufficient evidence to initiate the ban procedure already. Some are concerned that a failed procedure could actually play into the hands of the AfD, by effectively legitimizing the party.

In fact, some AfD representatives have encouraged the procedure themselves. 

AfD parliamentary group leader, Klaus Wichmann, told Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung (NOZ): "It's actually time for a ban procedure to be initiated…I am 100 percent sure that the judges would quickly come to the conclusion that a ban procedure against the AfD would not be permissible.”

But other supporters of the ban procedure suggest that the preliminary examination would help to get other state government leaders on board.

READ ALSO: German court defunds neo-Nazi Heimat party. Is the far-right AfD next?

"Minister-presidents have already shown themselves open to examining a ban on the AfD, and we can build on that," said SPD parliamentary group leader Mustafa Güngör, per reporting by Taz.

If Bremen’s push is successful, and an application for the party ban is filed, it would still likely take years for the Federal Constitutional Court to make a decision. For this reason Bremen’s leaders suggest there is no time to lose.

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Other attempts to ban right-ring groups

Recent attempts to ban far-right political parties in Germany have seen mixed results. In 2016, Germany's top court evaluated a case to ban the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD).

Ultimately the ban failed because the Constitutional Court ruled that the party, which had about 5,000 members at the time, did not have sufficient chances of endangering democracy.

More recently, calls for local bans against "Young Alternative" (JA), the youth wing of the AfD, are growing. In February, an administrative court in Cologne found that the Young Alternative is an extremist movement. Evidence for the finding came in part from messages sent in internal chats by Young Alternative group members, such as one who referred to himself as representative of National Socialism (Nazism).

Members of the Young Alternative have gone on to secure seats in Germany's regional and federal parliaments as AfD representatives.

Being a youth organisation, as opposed to a political party, the Young Alternative could be banned more simply, with an administrative act by the Federal Minister of the Interior, for instance.

 

 

 

 

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