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Weimar court dismisses far-right AfD lawsuit

November 20, 2019

A lawsuit by Germany's far-right AfD challenging scrutiny by Thuringia state authorities has been dismissed by the region's constitutional court. Observation status was declared last year by its intelligence agency.

Deutschland Thüringer Verfassungsgericht weist Prüffall-Klage der AfD ab | Verfassungsgerichtshof
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Schutt

Thuringia's top court on Wednesday threw out the Alternative for Germany (AfD) lawsuit on the grounds that as plaintiff it had inadmissibly used a legal procedure normally reserved only for disputes between governmental "organs."

As such, the AfD was not an "organ," nor did that designation apply to one of four targets of its complaint; Stephan Kramer, the president of Thuringia's domestic intelligence service (Verfassungsschutz), the court opined.

Read more: Thuringia state election 'cause for alarm'

The only applicable defendant for such a complaint had been Thuringia's interior minister, Georg Maier, but he himself had not made the scrutiny declaration challenged by the AfD, concluded Thuringia's ThVerfGh six-judge constitutional court (Verfassungsgerichthof).

'Scene' preparing for violent acts

A year ago, Thüringia's own intelligence service headed by Kramer had used the presentation of  region's annual intelligence report — alongside Maier — to rank the AfD as an "examination case," allowing closer observation.

Germany's news magazine Der Spiegel in October 2018 had quoted Kramer as saying the far-right extremist "scene" was gearing up for violent targeted acts, intimidation and "in particular" confrontation.

Deutschland Thüringer Verfassungsgericht weist Prüffall-Klage der AfD ab | Stephan Kramer und Georg Maier
Thuringia's agency head Stephan Kramer with interior minister Georg MaierImage: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Schutt

Nationwide ranking retracted

Last March, Germany's federal BfV agency based in Cologne — otherwise known as the Office for the Protection of the Constitution — had to retract its "examination case" ranking for the AfD as a whole after a ruling by Cologne's Administration Court.

Instead, the BfV ended up using a weaker label of "suspicious case" (Verdachsfall) but only to observe the nationwide AfD's strindent arch-conservative wing (Flügel), led from Thuringia by a prominent AfD figure Björn Höcke.

Höcke, who led the AfD to a 23.4% second-placing in Thuringia's assembly election last month, was among AfD plaintiffs named in Wednesday's court ruling.

Thuringia's top-placed post-communist Left party led by incumbent premier Bodo Ramelow is currently holding talks with electorally bruised centrist parties in the Erfurt assembly in a bid to form a second-term coalition cabinet.

Deutschland Thüringer Verfassungsgericht weist Prüffall-Klage der AfD ab | Björn Höcke
Under observation: AfD's Björn Höcke in Thuringia's constitutional court chamberImage: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Schutt

'Pure contempt for the state'

Kramer, in remarks carried by Spiegel last October, warned that "many" in Germany's far-right "scene" wanted to take the law into their own hands. 

"Behind all this is pure contempt for the state," said Kramer, asserting that extremist right-wingers were "against foreigners, against political opponents" and were organizing martial combat contests and survival training.

"Some groups and persons also take part at exercises abroad with lethal (scharfen) weapons," he asserted.

Kramer's remarks coincided at that time with far-right rock concerts, including one terminated by police in central Thuringia's city of Apolda — otherwise known for its metallurgic tradition of making bells.

'How it began in 1933'

Two weeks ago, Paul Ziemiak, the general-secretary of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in a guest article run by Spiegel accused the AfD of "openly and visibly building bridges to right-wing extremism" and was trying to "delegitimize" Germany's post-war parliamentary system from the "fringe" of Germany's constitutional order.

"That's how it began in 1933," said Ziemiak, referring the rise of the Nazi regime under Adolf Hitler.

"Höcke is for me a Nazi and the AfD with him on the way to NPD 2.0, Ziemiak asserted.

ipj/aw (dpa, AFP)