The AfD Deportation Conference Link to heading
If you’ve been reading the news, you will have heard that Germany is at a boiling point right now, as the German far-right met to plan ‘mass deportations’. The event was located not very far from the original Wannsee Conference, during which the mass deportation of Jews was planned during the Holocaust.
I wrote a long and angry essay about this, arguing for a ban of the extremist AfD party, which was at the center of this conference and is posed to achieve somewhere between 20% and 30% of the vote in some of the German federal states in 2024 and in the federal elections coming up in 2025. We’ve seen this before in German history and it ended badly.
The full essay is available in German only, but I have translated the executive summary for you below.
Against the AfD: Exective Summary Link to heading
We’re taking a break from the regular Data Science programming for a serious national crisis in German democracy. It is the year 2024 and the Federal Republic of Germany must once again confront one of the most awful questions since 1945:
“Pray tell, what are we to do with the Nazis?”
It is widely known that the right-wing and extremist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD)1 party has been openly promoting inhuman ideas for years, its state-level sections in Thüringen, Sachsen und Sachsen-Anhalt are classified as “proven right-wing extremist” and the leading figure of the party is a Court-approved Nazi and fascist. As with the legend of the frog who does not notice the slowly rising water temperature while being cooked alive, German public discourse has only formed a lukewarm consensus on how to deal with the AfD.2
It is often said that the AfD should be defeated in the marketplace of ideas. But it is now 2024 and who hasn’t yet gotten the memo that Nazis are bad people and the Grundgesetz (Basic Law) is an “Anti-Nazi-Constitution” (Steinbeis)? The actual question is this: is the Nazi level of the AfD significant enough to have transformed them from harmless idiots to dangerous idiots in order for us to activate all political and legal measures of the wehrhafte Demokratie (robust democracy) against them?
The restraint of the political establishment in Germany has so far been based on a reading of the AfD as a party suported by protest voters and establishment skeptics. Dissatisfaction is permitted under the Grundgesetz. Harsh criticism of the government and its policies as well. Thus, under the constitution it is permissible to agitate against European unification and immigration. The AfD was originally founded as an anti-euro party and was able radicalize itself under this cover for a long time. In contrast to the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), it was at least partially able to preserve the appearance of a right-wing conservative party, although the ideas and actions of its followers suggest much worse.
High-level AfD politicians, neo-Nazis and rich executives met in a hotel near Potsdam in November. They planned nothing less than the expulsion of millions of people from Germany.
We have reached the boiling point. There is no longer just evidence of the extremism of individual state-level units and officials. There are credible signs that the federal AfD and powerful supporters are preparing measures that are reminiscent of the darkest Nazi era. The meeting was held in a location hardly eight kilometers from the Wannsee Conference of 20 January 1942, during which the deportation of European Jews was planned.
It is time to take action against the AfD and activate the robust democracy provisions of the constitution against the party. This includes a party ban (Art. 21 (2) GG), a prohibition on financing the AfD (Art. 21 (3) GG) and the loss of political rights (including the ability to be elected and serve in public office) for key AfD leaders (Art. 18 GG, § 39 BVerfGG). A party ban will not fail for the same reasons as the proceedings against the NPD because it is probable that no government spies are in AfD leadership positions and the AfD poses a significant threat to democracy in truth.
Legal measures must be accompanied by intense efforts of democracy defenders in civil society, politics and business because otherwise the establishment parties will not find the courage to petition the Constitutional Court and go through with proceedings against the AfD.
Public trust in democracy is upheld by the great majority of democratic voters, not by AfD followers alone. Constitutional proceedings to ban the AfD will not weaken trust in democracy, but strengthen it.
“Alternative für Deutschland” translates to “Alternative for Germany”. These days it probably means an alternative constitution based on racial hatred. ↩︎