Far-right views and positions pose the biggest threat to German democracy and voters should bear this in mind before casting their ballot for the nationalist, anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany, AfD) party, according to the country’s domestic spy agency.
Thomas Haldenwang, the chief of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), made the remark at a news conference on Tuesday as he presented the agency’s 2022 annual report.
“[P]arts of the AfD spread hate and agitation against all kinds of minorities in Germany, especially migrants … We see that parts of the AfD also hold and promote an anti-Semitic attitude,” said Haldenwang.
“We see that parts of the AfD are very much influenced by Moscow and continue to spread Russian narratives”, particularly with regards to Russia’s all-out war in Ukraine, Haldenwang added.
“I think these are all circumstances that German voters should bear in mind when making their decision,” he said.
The AfD has opposed economic sanctions against Moscow, in contrast with mainstream German parties including Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s governing Social Democrats who strongly support Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invading forces.
The spy agency classified the youth organisation of AfD, the Young Alternatives, and two other organisations, the Institute for State Policy and the “One Percent” association, as “extremist entities” pursuing aims against the constitution.
The new classification could affect members’ ability to be employed in the public sector or to get licences for weapons.
The Young Alternatives said it was not surprised by the decision, saying the spy agency was “simply doing its job, which essentially consists of repressing the opposition”, adding it would take legal steps against the classification.
The classification does not apply to the AfD itself, and Manfred Guellner of the pollster Forsa said it was unlikely to have a major effect on the party
The AfD is currently polling at 18-20 percent nationwide and is on track to win three state votes in eastern Germany with calls to stop migration and curb what it sees as a costly green agenda.
Far-right parties have gained ground across Europe but the rise of the AfD has touched a particularly sensitive nerve in Germany because of the country’s Nazi past.
The report said the number of people potentially involved in far-right activity in Germany rose 14.5 percent to 38,800 in 2022, while the number of far-right activists prepared to use violence rose to 14,000 from 13,500.
According to research published by Institute for New Social Answers (INSA) this week, the AfD is polling at 20 percent at the national level, on par with the SPD but behind the centre-right CDU at 26.5 percent.