Posts Tagged ‘AfD’

Far-right AfD to campaign on German EU exit — Dexit means Deutschland Exit

January 13, 2019

German far-right party AfD voted Sunday to campaign for Berlin’s exit from the EU in the upcoming European Parliament elections if its demand for reforms within the bloc are not met.

The decision marks the first time any party has called for “Dexit” — a German departure from the EU in the mold of Brexit.

From left: Alternative for Germany leader Joerg Meuthen share information on a mobile phone with Alexander Gauland and Torben Braga during the party’s meeting on January 13, 2019. (AFP)

If the EU is not reshaped in line with the party’s ideas “in an appropriate timeframe,” Germany must leave the bloc, according to the draft manifesto agreed by delegates at a party congress in eastern Saxony state.

Congress attendees also voted through a call to abolish the European Parliament — the very Brussels body the AfD candidates will be campaigning to join this spring.

“We see nation-states as having the exclusive competence to make laws,” the text read, blasting the “751 privileged members” of the present European house.

While both demands are now in the draft manifesto, a final vote later Sunday will adopt or reject the entire campaign package.

Elections for the European Parliament will take place in May.

AfD was originally founded as a euroskeptic party, but rose to its current strength and representation in Germany’s national parliament after right-wingers took over and switched its focus to opposing Islam and immigration.

Like other nationalist movements around the continent, its leaders argue too much power has been transferred to Brussels, saying the EU has far outgrown its origins in economic cooperation.

“We don’t need to abolish the EU, but bring it back to its sensible core,” AfD leader Alexander Gauland told delegates Saturday ahead of the vote, saying the party “has partners that would walk the path with us” like Austria’s FPO or Italy’s Lega.

Concerned about scaring off potential voters in majority pro-EU Germany, party chiefs warned the congress against even harder proposals that would have called for an exit if AfD’s reform demands were not imposed by 2024.



Germany: Comprehensive review of immigration system ordered

January 13, 2019

CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer wants a “comprehensive review” of Germany’s immigration system. Contradicting Angela Merkel, the new party leader said scrutiny of the fateful year of 2015 was necessary.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (picture-alliance/dpa/G. Fischer)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s successor at the helm of the Christian Democrats (CDU) has told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that the party will scrutinize the chancellor’s migration policy since the beginning of the migration crisis in 2015.

“We will look at the entire immigration issue, from the protection of the external border to asylum procedures and integration, from the perspective of effectiveness” Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said.

Kramp-Karrenbauer, who replaced Merkel as CDU leader in December, said the party would review the immigration system at a planned workshop in February.

The European Union’s border protection agency, Frontex, and Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees would take part in the talks to examine “where and what needs to be improved,” she added.

AKK contradicts Merkel

Kramp-Karrenbauer, who was Merkel’s favored candidate to take over the CDU, differed from her predecessor on the topic of the 2015 migration crisis and the government’s subsequent response.

Read more: Ai Weiwei: ‘Refugee crisis is a political tool for populists’

Merkel said that discussions surrounding what happened in 2015, when more than a million migrants entered Germany, amounted to “wasted time,” according to Die Welt am Sonntag. But Kramp-Karrenbauer said she did not fully agree.

“It would be a strange state of affairs if we in the CDU were to approach the topic comprehensively and ignore what happened in 2015,” she said.

Immigration has dominated German politics since the migration crisis. The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has enjoyed repeated electoral successes across the country on the back of an ardent anti-migration platform.

jcg/amp (KNA, AFP)


Bautzen Kornmarkt Polizei vs rechtes Spektrum

Bautzen, Germany anti-migrant demonstrations

A police officer stands guard as migrants stage a protest in front of a train at Bicske railway station, Hungary, September 4, 2015. Hundreds of migrants, many of them refugees from the Syrian war, woke after a night spent on a packed train stranded at a railway station west of Budapest, refusing to go to a nearby camp to process asylum seekers. The train had left Budapest on Thursday morning after a two-day standoff at the city’s main railway station as police barred entry to some 2,000 migrants. Hungary says they must be registered, as per European Union rules, but many refuse, fearing they will be sent back to Hungary if caught later in western and northern Europe. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

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The ‘Great Wall of Calais’, aimed at preventing migrants and refugees from attempting to reach Britain AFP/Philippe Huguen


Is Germany’s Extreme-Right AfD Falling Apart? Or Beaten Into Submission?

January 11, 2019

The far-right Alternative for Germany may be unravelling at the edges after a disgruntled member struck off on his own. That’s bad news for the populists ahead of key elections, says DW political analyst Jefferson Chase.

Shattered glass in front of AfD office

There is now even more right-wing alternative to the Alternative for Germany (AfD).

On Thursday, the former party leader in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, Andre Poggenburg, resigned his party membership. Only hours later, the far-right hardliner announced that he is forming a party of his own, the “Aufbruch deutscher Patrioten” (Uprising of German Patriots), to compete with the AfD.

Poggenburg was one of the more extreme nationalist and xenophobic leaders within the AfD, which twice censured him for using language reminiscent of right-wing extremism. He has close ties to the radical Identitarian and Pegida movements. And for much of his career he was also an ally of Thuringian AfD leader Björn Höcke, who is regarded as one of the main motors behind the AfD’s ethnic-nationalist hardline wing and who has often been accused of anti-Semitism.

In 2016, Poggenburg became the leader of the opposition in the Saxony-Anhalt regional parliament, but stepped down last year from that position and as regional party leader following controversial anti-Turkish remarks. The emblem of Poggenburg’s new party, a blue cornflower, has been criticized for having right-wing extremist and Nazi connotations.

Reaction to Poggenburg’s defection among AfD members has been mixed. Some hardliners have rued his departure, while members of the relatively moderate Alternative Mitte group have welcomed it. Regional parliamentarian Uwe Junge, for instance, tweeted: “Andre Poggenburg is leaving the AfD! Finally. I hope he takes all the extremist fools and self-proclaimed patriots with him.”

Uwe Junge, MdL


André Poggenburg verläßt die AfD!
Endlich – ich hoffe, er nimmt den ganzen Narrensaum und die selbst ernannten Patrioten mit! , !  via @junge_freiheit

André Poggenburg verläßt die AfD

Der frühere AfD-Landes- und Fraktionschef von Sachsen-Anhalt, André Poggenburg, ist aus der Partei ausgetreten. Am Donnerstag abend erklärte er in einer E-Mail an die AfD-Bundesgeschäftsstelle den…

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A limit to the AFD’s move right?

The 43-year-old may not have been universally liked within the AfD, but party leaders have to be concerned that Poggenburg’s supporters could follow him and defect — a scenario that has some precedent.

The Alternative for Germany was founded in 2013 primarily in opposition to European monetary union. But a lack of electoral success shifted the focus to hostility toward mass migration. Co-founder Bernd Lucke was replaced by the far more conservative Frauke Petry as party head in 2015.

That shift roughly coincided with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision not to close Germany’s borders as large numbers of refugees and migrants began arriving from Syria, Northern Africa, Afghanistan and other places. That brought a surge of support for the AfD from Germans who feared that large-scale migration would threaten their way of life and the country’s traditions.

A protest organized by the AfD, and the Pegida and “Pro Chemnitz” movements | John MacDougall/AFP via Getty Images

Since 2015, the AfD has moved further and further to the nationalist, some might say racist right, guided by such figures as current party co-leader Alexander Gauland, Höcke and Poggenburg. That evolution has come to the dismay of more moderate AfD members, including Petry, who became increasingly marginalized in the run-up to the 2017 German federal election.

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Frauke Petry

The party recorded an impressive 12.6 percent of the national vote and eventually became the main opposition party in the Bundestag. The triumph prompted Gauland to promise to “hound” Merkel and Germany’s traditional political parties.

But the day after the vote, Petry and her supporters quit the AfD. That meant the parliamentary group immediately lost three seats. Petry subsequently formed the Blue Party, but it has yet to contest any elections and has attracted very few members.

Potential damage in eastern elections

The schism with Poggenburg and his supporters could be far more damaging than the split with the Petry. For starters, this is the first time that a rival group has formed to the right of the AfD. And it comes as the party had hoped to kick start its stalled momentum with three regional elections in its stronghold of eastern Germany: Saxony and Brandenburg on September 1 and Thuringia on October 27.

After becoming Germany’s third-largest party at national level in 2017, the AfD failed to dramatically increase its support in regional elections in 2018. The populists came in a distant third with just over 10 percent of the vote in Bavaria and fourth in Hesse with slightly more than 13 percent.

The AfD continues to attract some 13.5 percent support in opinion polls, but the far-right populists have been outstripped by the Greens who have been polling 18 to 20 percent.

The AfD does attract 20 to 25 percent support in the east, but splits like those with Petry and Poggenburg could see erosion on both ends of the AfD’s spectrum of voters. Petry, who is from Saxony and won her constituency outright there in 2017, could siphon off moderates. Poggenburg, who was also born and bred in the formerly Communist east, could take away some hardline far-right and extremist voters.

Many mainstream political analysts have predicted, perhaps with an admixture of wishful thinking, that the tug-of-war between relative moderates and hardliners could rip the AfD apart at the seams. That remains a very hypothetical scenario — at the time of writing, Poggenburg’s new party has a grand total of ten Twitter followers.

But arguably more than any other German party, the AfD’s appeal relies on the perception that it represents a popular movement that is inexorably growing in strength. The latest discord undercuts the idea of the AfD as a truly viable alternative.


Damaged AfD office in Döbeln following explosion (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Willnow)

Police authorities said “an unknown substance was detonated” on Thursday at around 7:20 p.m. local time (620 UTC) in front of the building that houses the offices of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the Saxon city of Döbeln.

Doors and windows of the building hou

Liberalism’s most brilliant enemy is back in vogue

January 11, 2019

Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt appeals to opponents of democracy and the rule of law

Image result for donald trump, Xi jinping, at Mar-a-lago, pictures, al jazeera

Carl Schmitt, a jurist and Nazi party member, has been cited by the white nationalist Richard Spencer, left, and his theories are applicable to the governing styles of Donald Trump, Xi Jinping and Tayyip Recep Erdogan

By Gideon Rachman

Achieving fame as the “crown jurist of the Third Reich” does not sound like a good way of endearing yourself to posterity. Indeed, for decades after the defeat of Nazism, the ideas of Carl Schmitt were widely regarded as beyond the pale.

But in recent years there has been a global revival of interest in the work of Schmitt, who died in 1985 at the age of 96. Chinese legal scholars, Russian nationalists, the far-right in the US and Germany, as well as the far-left in Britain and France, are all drawing upon the work of the premier legal theorist of Nazi Germany. The resurgence of interest in Schmitt is testimony to a global backlash against liberalism. As the Princeton political theorist Jan-Werner Müller puts it, Schmitt was “the [20th]century’s most brilliant enemy of liberalism”.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, 8 January

President Erdogan. EPA photo

Schmitt’s hostility to parliamentary democracy, and his support for the power of an authoritarian leader to decide the law, led him down some very dark paths. He issued a legal opinion justifying Hitler’s suspension of democracy and assumption of emergency powers after the Reichstag fire in 1933. And when the Nazis murdered scores of their enemies in the “Night of the Long Knives”, Schmitt wrote a notorious essay justifying the killings.

Image result for Reichstag fire in 1933, pictures

Reichstag fire in 1933

He was also an anti-Semite who called for the expulsion of Jewish academics from Germany and convened a conference on purging German law of Jewish influence. Despite this, contemporary anti-liberals find much to admire in his work.

Image result for Night of the Long Knives, pictures

He scorned ideas such as the separation of powers and universal human rights and argued that the distinction between “friend” and “enemy” is fundamental to politics: “Tell me who your enemy is and I will tell you who you are.”

To Schmitt, liberal talk of the brotherhood of man was simply hypocrisy. While liberals are concerned with the establishment of the rule of law, Schmitt was more interested in how the rule of law can be suspended through the declaration of a state of emergency.

As he wrote: “Sovereign is he who decides on the exception.”

This argument has a particular resonance in modern Germany, where the far-right Alternative for Germany party argues that Chancellor Angela Merkel should have suspended international law on refugees, rather than allowing more than 1m migrants to enter Germany in 2015 and 2016. The Trump administration is considering declaring a limited state of emergency in response to the alleged threat to America’s southern border posed by illegal migrants and refugees.

Contemporary Turkey and Egypt provide examples of how the declaration of a state of emergency can be used to suspend legal rights to devastating effect. There is no reason to believe that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has studied Schmitt. But authoritarian thinkers elsewhere in the world are clearly drawing upon his ideas. In China, legal scholars at Beijing University have used his thought to justify the Communist party’s control of the courts.

As François Bougon, author of a study of President Xi Jinping, explains: “In Schmitt, Chinese authors have found arguments against liberal conceptions of western democracy.”

Alexander Dugin, a Russian nationalist intellectual, has written an essay entitled “Carl Schmitt’s Five Lessons for Russia”. He praises his dicta of “politics above all else” and “let there always be enemies”.

And, as a believer in the importance of the Eurasian landmass to Russia’s destiny, Mr Dugin is attracted to Schmitt’s emphasis on “great spaces”, “large geopolitical entities, each of which should be governed by a flexible super state”. Ironically, this was a doctrine that was used to justify the Nazi invasion of Russia, in the search for Lebensraum.

But Mr Dugin finds in Schmitt a moral justification for great land empires and “a clear understanding of the enemy facing Europe, Russia and Asia that is the United States of America along with its . . . island ally, England”. However, there are also fringe thinkers in the US and England, who are attracted to Schmitt’s ideas.

Richard Spencer, an American white supremacist who coined the term, “alt-right”, has cited Schmitt, along with Nietzsche, as an inspiration. And some on the European radical left have also been attracted by Schmitt’s rejection of liberal attempts to take politics out of the operation of the law or the conduct of economic policy.

Perhaps more surprisingly, the study of Schmitt has also entered the academic mainstream. As Professor Müller puts it: “In many ways his thought has been normalised.” In 2017, Oxford University Press published The Oxford Handbook of Carl Schmitt. The blurb notes: “Despite Schmitt’s rabid anti-Semitism . . . the appeal of his trenchant critiques of . . . representative democracy and international law . . . is undiminished.”

Ironically, this willingness to debate disagreeable ideas is a hallmark of the very liberalism that Schmitt despised. But the notion that Schmitt’s “trenchant critiques” can be admired separately from his despicable life may be taking liberal tolerance a little too far.

See also:

Carl Schmitt: The Philosopher of Conflict Who Inspired Both the Left and the Right

Europe shaken as political systems splinter

January 9, 2019

Fragmentation of European politics

Matteo Salvini

Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini

By Ben Hall, Europe editor

When a Spanish nationalist party took 12 seats in Andalucia’s parliament last month, it was not just the latest example of rising populism in Europe. It also demonstrated a deeper trend that threatens to disrupt governance across the continent — the fragmentation of electorates and the parties that represent them.

Representation has splintered in almost every sizeable political system in Europe, making it harder to form governing coalitions, creating political instability and giving a voice to new formations on the radical left and right and in the political centre. “You have new dimensions in politics today,” said Hans Wallmark, a centre-right MP from Sweden. “Pessimists-optimists, centre-periphery. It is not so easy as when you had a left-right scale on which you could plot political choices.

“It is not necessarily a chaotic system, but a new political landscape is taking shape,” he added. “We are going to see it for many years.” Before the Andalucia breakthrough by Vox— in a country previously considered immune to far-right politics because of its Francoist past — Spain was already a four-party system, with socialists, the far-left, centre-right and liberals vying for power.

If Vox establishes a national appeal, there will be five, plus a smattering of Catalan, Basque and Galician nationalists.

People gather during a protest against Spain's cabinet meeting in Barcelona, Spain, December 21, 2018.

Catalan protesters in Spain. Reuters photo

Opinion polls suggest no party nationally enjoys backing of more than 24 per cent. It is not necessarily a chaotic system, but a new political landscape is taking shape Hans Wallmark, centre-right Swedish MP In Belgium, meanwhile, it took the country a world record 541 days to form a government after inconclusive elections in 2010.

Following the country’s 2014 polls, in which eight parties won between 33 and six seats each, it took five months to assemble a coalition — which collapsed last month. Mr Wallmark’s Sweden could be heading for more elections this year after parties failed to form a government following September’s poll.

No party wants to co-operate with the far-right Sweden Democrats, who won 17.5 per cent in the vote, but that means neither a centre-left nor a centre-right bloc can muster a majority in parliament. The losers from the fragmentation of European politics have mostly been mainstream centre-left and centre-right parties, as in Germany, where the populist rightwing Alternative for Germany and the left-leaning Greens have eaten into support for the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats.

A protest organized by the AfD, and the Pegida and “Pro Chemnitz” movements | John MacDougall/AFP via Getty Images

In May’s European Parliament elections, the centre-left and centre-right blocs are likely to lose their majority for the first time in 25 years. Demonstrators in Malaga protest against the success of Spanish nationalists Vox in regional elections.

If the party establishes a national base it will further splinter an already fractured political scene Tarik Abou-Chadi, assistant professor at the University of Zurich and Centre for Democracy Studies Aarau, said three deep-seated reasons lay behind the trend: societies were becoming more individualised; big organisations such as trade unions, churches and political parties were “losing their capacity to link voters to a particular identity”; and political debate was becoming more “multi-dimensional”.

For example, he argued, it was no longer about capital versus labour, while some social liberals as well as conservatives now opposed immigration. [Mainstream parties are] like the old department stores of the 1960s competing with cool new boutiques Tarik Abou-Chadi Mainstream parties, Prof Abou-Chadi said, were increasingly less able to react quickly to new concerns and issues.

They were “like the old department stores of the 1960s competing with cool new boutiques.” The most extreme example of such fragmentation is the Netherlands. Thanks to a highly proportional voting system, 13 parties won seats in the 150-strong assembly there in the 2017 general election.

The coalition government is made up of four parties and took office 225 days after voters cast their ballots. Indeed, some analysts have described the fragmentation trend as “Dutchification”.

Professor Sarah de Lange of the University of Amsterdam said the Dutch had seen a proliferation of parties before, in the 1960s and 1970s, but without today’s range of political positions. “The incumbents have become smaller and the newcomers have got bigger,” she said. “At the same time, the political poles have grown further apart. It is these two developments that have made it harder to govern.”

France’s ‘gilets jaunes’ protesters are being urged to field candidates in the European elections to erode far right leader Marine Le Pen’s support.

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Photographer: Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images

France’s constitution, which provides for two rounds of voting in presidential and National Assembly elections, both encourages fragmentation and then eliminates it. In 2002 a fractured left failed to back socialist candidate Lionel Jospin in the first round of presidential elections.

This gave the then far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen a place in the run-off, before Jaques Chirac defeated him in the second round. Recommended Gideon Rachman Populism faces its darkest hour Emmanuel Macron won only 24 per cent in the first round vote in the 2017 presidential polls, and three other candidates drew only around 20 per cent each, giving National Front leader Marine Le Pen a place in the run-off. But Mr Macron took the presidency with 66 per cent in the second round.

Now some Macron allies are urging gilets jaunes anti-government protesters to stand in the European elections, a strategy that could help eat into Ms Le Pen’s support. Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system obscures its political fragmentation. Some 82 per cent of voters backed either the Labour or Conservative parties at the 2017 general election, but the two have deep internal divisions on many issues and would be likely to split under a more proportional system. But to many voters, political diversification may be positive.

The Open Arms rescued the migrants on December 21, off the coast of Libya


“People like congruent choice,” said Professor Sara Hobolt of the London School of Economics.

“They like to have parties that represent their views. “But they also like politicians to do effective governance,” she said. “There is always a trade-off between responsibility and responsiveness. What if they cannot deliver?”


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The twilight zones of the democratic world are drifting towards the Putin-Xi camp

Germany: AfD Lawmaker Severely Injured in Street Attack

January 8, 2019
Beaten unconscious with a piece of wood and then kicked in the head as he lay on the ground
Bundestag MP beaten about the head by three masked assailants
Merkel’s spokesman, German political parties condemn assault
Frank Magnitz Photographer: Michael Kappeler/AFP via Getty Images

A member of parliament for Germany’s far-right AfD party was severely beaten in the street in Bremen on Monday evening in what police said was probably a politically motivated attack.

Frank Magnitz, who is also the AfD’s Bremen chairman, was seriously injured by three masked men who knocked him out with a piece of wood and kicked him in the head as he lay on the ground, the AfD’s branch in the city said in a statement on Facebook. A passing construction worker stepped in to end the attack, the party said.

The Bremen prosecutors’ office and a unit of the Federal Crime Office responsible for probing politically motivated incidents are investigating, Bremen police said.

The Bremen AfD said Monday’s attack represents “a black day for democracy in Germany” and accused rival political parties of supporting extreme left-wing “Antifa” activists.

“The AfD is more and more the target of left-wing attacks, which the other parties fail to condemn or even show support for,” the party said.

Values Betrayed

Top officials from Germany’s main political parties condemned the attack, along with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief spokesman, Steffen Seibert, who said in a Tweet that he hopes the police will quickly catch the culprits.

“The AfD is political opponent of our tolerant and peaceful society,” Andrea Nahles, chairwoman of the Social Democrats, said in a Tweet. “But people who fight the party and its politicians with violence, betray these values and endanger our coexistence. I condemn the attack on Frank Magnitz in the strongest possible terms.”


A local leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany was attacked and seriously wounded by several men in the northwestern city of Bremen, an assault that drew condemnation Tuesday from some of the party’s fiercest opponents.

Bremen police said they believe the attack on Frank Magnitz, a lawmaker in Germany’s national parliament who leads the party’s local branch, was politically motivated. They called for witnesses to the attack around 5:20 p.m. Monday near a city theater to come forward.

Magnitz was beaten over the head with an unidentified object by at least three men wearing dark clothing and hoods or hats, who then fled, police said. Two workers who were loading a car nearby found him lying on the ground and called an ambulance. The 66-year-old was hospitalized.

The party, known by its German acronym AfD, said earlier Tuesday that Magnitz was ambushed after he left a local newspaper’s new year’s reception, beaten unconscious with a piece of wood and then kicked in the head as he lay on the ground.

Bremen, Germany’s smallest state, holds a regional election on May 26, the same day as European Parliament elections in which AfD hopes to make gains.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, wrote on Twitter that “the brutal attack on lawmaker Frank Magnitz in Bremen must be strongly condemned. Hopefully police will quickly succeed in catching the perpetrators.”

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, a center-left politician who has been a strong critic of AfD, tweeted that “violence must never be a means of political confrontation — no matter against whom or what the motives are.”

“There is no justification for this,” he said, calling for those responsible to be punished.

That was echoed by other politicians from established parties, including prominent Green party politician Cem Ozdemir, who said that AfD must be countered by legal means, not violence. “Anyone who fights hatred with hatred always lets hatred win in the end,” he wrote on Twitter.

AfD is represented in all of Germany’s 16 state parliaments. It entered the national parliament in 2017 and is currently the biggest opposition party there..

AfD views the country’s established political parties with contempt, and the feeling is mutual.

“The cowardly and life-threatening attack against Frank Magnitz is the result of constant agitation against us by politicians and media,” party co-leaders Alexander Gauland and Joerg Meuthen said in a statement.

AfD took 10 percent of the vote in Bremen in the 2017 national election, below its nationwide result of 12.6 percent. Bremen is not considered a stronghold of the six-year-old party, unlike three states in Germany’s ex-communist east that hold regional votes in September and October.

Germany has seen other attacks on politicians in recent years.

In 2015, a far-right extremist stabbed in the neck a leading mayoral candidate for Cologne, who at the time was in charge of housing refugees. Henriette Reker was elected mayor the following day while in an induced coma and took office about a month later.

In 2017, a man with a knife attacked the mayor of Altena in western Germany. The mayor was known for voluntarily taking in more asylum-seekers than the small town was obliged to.

Associated Press

German politicians targeted in mass data breach, cyber attack “attempting to destabilise Germany society”

January 4, 2019


Hundreds of German politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, have had personal details stolen and published online.

Contacts, private chats and financial details were put out on Twitter that belong to figures from every political party except the far-right AfD.

Data from celebrities and journalists were also leaked.

Angela Merkel, Greens leader Robert Habeck and TV satirist Jan Böhmermann have all been targeted by the hackImage copyright GETTY/REUTERS
Image captionAngela Merkel, Greens leader Robert Habeck and TV satirist Jan Böhmermann have all been targeted by the hack

It is unclear who was behind the attack, which emerged on Twitter in the style of an advent calendar last month.

How extensive was the attack?

The true extent of damage caused by the leak is not yet known although Justice Minister Katarina Barley said it was a “serious attack”.

“The people behind this want to damage confidence in our democracy and institutions,” she said.

A government spokeswoman said no sensitive data from the chancellor’s office had been published. MPs, Euro MPs and MPs from state parliaments were affected, said Martina Fietz.

She said the government was not yet certain that the data had been stolen by cyber-hackers. Some reports suggested a lone leaker may have had access to sensitive data through their work.

A cyber analyst told the BBC there was speculation that hackers may have exploited weaknesses in email software to get hold of passwords that those targeted had also used on social media accounts.

Germany’s federal office for information security (BSI) said government networks were not affected, as far as it was aware.

Although nothing politically explosive is known to have been leaked, the sheer volume of personal data involved suggests the consequences could be considerable, says RBB reporter Michael Götschenberg, who researched the attack.

view of the Bundestag (German parliament) and its glass dome, with the monument to the soviet soldier in the foreground on German Unity Day (Tag der Deutschen Einheit) on October 3, 2017 in Berlin, GermanyImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image captionMany of those targeted are MPs in Germany’s Bundestag

The now-suspended Twitter account, identified by German media as @_0rbit, was followed by more than 17,000 people and appeared to be operated from Hamburg.

Although documents had been posted on the account from 1 December to 28 December, it was not until Thursday evening that officials became aware of the theft.

Bild newspaper said all the data stolen in the attack dated back to before October 2018 but it was not clear when it began.

Who was targeted?

National and local political figures as well as some TV personalities have had their details stolen.

Data appeared as Advent calendar-style daily releases on Twitter. The first “doors” at the start of December featured TV presenters, then rappers and from 20 December it focused on politicians.

Among those targeted were:

  • Chancellor Angela Merkel: her email address and several letters to and from the chancellor appear to have been published
  • The main parliamentary groups including the ruling centre-right and centre-left parties, as well as The Greens, left-wing Die Linke and FDP. Only AfD appears to have escaped
  • Greens leader Robert Habeck, who had private chats with family members and credit card details posted online
  • Journalists from public broadcasters ARD and ZDF as well as TV satirist Jan Böhmermann, rapper Marteria and rap group K.I.Z, reports say
  • Another TV satirist, Christian Ehring, is said to have had 3.4 gigabytes of data stolen and posted online, including holiday photos. Last year he won a court case brought by AfD leader Alice Weidel, who complained when he called her a “slut” on his TV show.
  • Centre-left SPD MP Florian Post said he felt “quite shocked” by the leak of account statements and other details online, but he added that at least one file that had been posted was fake.

Who was behind attack?

Immediate suspicion fell on right-wing groups in Germany as well as Russia.

German cyber-security analyst Sven Herpig said Russia was a suspect, first because of the method used but also because Germany was facing four state elections in 2019 as well as elections to the European Parliament.

However, the fact that no right-wing politicians were targeted while prominent figures who had criticised them had been, suggested domestic right-wingers may also have been responsible, he told the BBC.

Russia has been accused of cyber-attacks in Germany before.

In 2015, data was stolen from computers in the Bundestag. And last year the government’s IT network came under attack amid reports that Russian hackers were also to blame.

UK-based expert Graham Cluley said the breadth of the latest hack suggested it was a co-ordinated effort involving a determined group over many months.

“This hack clearly isn’t about extortion or financially motivated. This is about attempting to destabilise Germany society,” he told the BBC.


Explosion outside AfD office in eastern Germany

January 4, 2019

An explosion occurred outside of the Alternative for Germany’s Döbeln office in Saxony. Investigators are looking into whether the attack was politically motivated.

Damaged AfD office in Döbeln following explosion (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Willnow)

Police authorities said “an unknown substance was detonated” on Thursday at around 7:20 p.m. local time (620 UTC) in front of the building that houses the offices of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the Saxon city of Döbeln.

Doors and windows of the building housing the AfD office were damaged, as well as two neighboring buildings. Parked cars were reportedly also damaged. No injuries were reported.

The police did not give information with regard to possible suspects for the attack. Saxony’s State Office of Criminal Investigation was investigating suspicions that the crime was politically motivated.

Attacks ‘helps the AfD’

Martin Dulig, Saxony’s deputy prime minister and a member of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), condemned the attack Friday morning on Twitter.

“There’s no justification for the attack on the AfD office in Döbeln,” he wrote. “Violence is not a means of democracy. The AfD must be fought politically and not with explosives. This attack helps the AfD and hurts democracy.”

Martin Dulig@MartinDulig

Für den Anschlag auf das AfD-Büro in Döbeln gibt es keine Legitimation. Gewalt gehört nicht zu den Mitteln der Demokratie. Die AfD muss politisch bekämpft werden und nicht mit Sprengkörpern. Dieser Anschlag hilft der AfD und schadet der Demokratie.

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dv/sms (AFP, dpa)

Explosion outside office of German far-right party condemned

January 4, 2019

An explosion outside an office of the far-right Alternative for Germany party in an eastern town has damaged windows and doors in the building, drawing condemnation from a senior regional official. No one was hurt.

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Police told news agency dpa that an unknown substance exploded Thursday evening outside the office in Doebeln, in Saxony state — a stronghold of the party, known by its German acronym AfD, which entered the national parliament in 2017. Authorities were looking into the cause and possible motives.

Saxony’s deputy governor, center-left Social Democrat Martin Dulig, tweeted Friday that there is no justification for what happened, adding that “this attack helps AfD and damages democracy.” Saxony holds a state election in September.

Associated Press

Hackers post personal data of hundreds of German politicians

January 4, 2019

Hackers have posted personal data from hundreds of German politicians from major parties, including credit card details and mobile phone numbers, ARD TV said on Friday.

The data, published on a Twitter account, also included addresses, personal letters and copies of identity cards, the public broadcaster said, citing affiliate rbb.

All major German parties except for the far-right AfD are affected. The identity of the hackers and their motive were not known, the report said.

Image result for hackers, pictures
(Christiaan Colen / Flickr)

Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the report.

Reporting by Tassilo Hummel; editing by Thomas Seythal and editing by John Stonestreet