German Cultural Council warns against AfD in culture committee | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 16.01.2018
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German Cultural Council warns against AfD in culture committee

As the opposition, the Alternative for Germany is set to lead several parliamentary committees. But the German Cultural Council has warned allowing the far-right party to control culture would send a "fatal signal."

Last week's preliminary agreement between Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) makes the perspective of a renewed "grand coalition" more likely for Germany's government.

With a grand coalition, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) would officially become the largest opposition party in parliament. According to established rules, this allows the party to have a member in every parliamentary committee, which is a structure allowing the opposition to challenge the government's policies. The AfD is also set to obtain a leadership role in at least two of the parliamentary committees.

Read more: What is the role of Germany's parliamentary opposition?

As the composition of the parliamentary committees is to be determined in the upcoming week, the German Cultural Council (Deutscher Kulturrat)  has warned against allowing the AfD to preside over the culture committee.

According to information obtained by the German daily FAZ on Tuesday, the AfD has nominated two of its members for the position, Marc Jongen and Martin Renner.

Olaf Zimmermann manager German Cultural Council (Imago/R.Zensen)

Olaf Zimmermann, manager of the German Cultural Council

"Since its establishment in 1998, the Parliamentary Committee on Cultural and Media Affairs has developed a leading role in promoting Germany's Holocaust remembrance culture," said Cultural Council head Olaf Zimmermann in a statement.

Members of the AfD have sparked controversy for making anti-Semitic statements and are renowned for their stance against Muslim refugees. Zimmermann said it would be a "fatal signal" to allow the party to preside over this committee.

Read more: Controversy over far-right AfD member joining former concentration camp board

On Tuesday, the AfD confirmed its aims to obtain the leadership of the committees overseeing the budget and the secret services, the latter being responsible for monitoring right-wing extremism.

Other nominees for parliamentary committees will be revealed later on, said AfD leader Bernd Baumann, who described the names revealed by the FAZ article as "speculation."

eg/cmk (dpa, KNA, AFP)

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