Posts Tagged ‘Alternative for Germany’

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

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

Far-right group patrols German city after migrant assaults

January 3, 2019

Four asylum-seekers assaulted a dozen people in the Bavarian town of Amberg over the weekend, renewing debate over migration, crime and deportation. Now the far-right NPD is conducting “protection” patrols in the town.

NPD patrol (facebook/@npdnuernberg)

A German far-right group has carried out street patrols in the Bavarian town of Amberg where four asylum-seekers allegedly attacked a dozen passers-by over the weekend.

The Nuremberg branch of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) posted pictures on its Facebook page of people in red vests with the words “We’re creating safe zones” walking through the streets of Amberg.

The town’s mayor, Michael Cerny, expressed “shock” to learn the NPD was trying to create “safe spaces” in Amberg, where he said there was no far-right scene.

“I can understand the uncertainty seen in some of the reactions of some Ambergers, but the hatred and the threats of violence from all over the country go way too far,” Cerny told the local daily Mittelbayerische Zeitung.

Night of assaults

Four suspects aged 17-19, who were asylum-seekers from Afghanistan and Iran, are alleged to have suddenly harassed and beat passers-by on Saturday evening while under the influence of alcohol. Twelve people sustained mostly minor injuries.

Read more: German court sentences man over anti-migrant illegal gun site 

The accused are currently being held in pretrial detention on charges of causing dangerous bodily harm. Three of the four had had their asylum requests rejected.

Amberg Four asylum-seekers from Iran and Afghanistan assaulted passers-by in Amberg, unleashing further debate over violent crimes committed by migrants

Creating ‘safe zones’

An Amberg police spokesperson told DW that authorities were aware of the NPD Facebook posts but had not seen the street patrols.

“We haven’t seen anything. There were just pictures of people on social media,” the spokesperson said.

Since the middle of last year the NPD has organized a so-called protection campaign, sending members out in vests to show a presence in “problem areas,” party functionary Sebastian Schmidtke told DW.

Read more: Germany: Police investigate far-right NPD video showing ‘protection’ patrol on trains 

In the case of Amberg, two groups of four-to-five people in vests patrolled through the streets to show the local population there was “security again,” he said, adding the NPD members had no weapons. In the event of an incident they would inform police unless the situation was “acute” and required a response, he said.

An Amberg police spokesperson said that authorities would treat any NPD patrols as an unregistered political gathering. The NPD says they have a right to patrol the streets under Germany’s “freedom to roam” laws.

Alleged NPD supporters patrolling in Amberg Four NPD members stroll through the streets of Amberg to create “safe zones”

Calls for deportations

The assaults have revived debates over immigration, integration and crime that have dominated German politics since the influx of more than one million asylum-seekers since 2015.

Read more: Germany’s migration commissioner urges ‘severe punishment’ for Freiburg rape

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who has clashed with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s migration policy, said Wednesday that existing laws must be hardened to ensure asylum-seekers who commit crimes are deported.

Read more: German interior minister renews call for stricter deportation laws in wake of Amberg attacks 

Meanwhile, representatives of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) were expected in Amberg on Thursday to “get a picture of the situation” following the assaults, the party said.

“The local population must be urgently protected from those who are allegedly seeking asylum protection,” said Katrin Ebner-Steiner, the head of the AfD’s parliamentary group in Bavaria.  She called for the “immediate removal” of the perpetrators who had “squandered” any right to stay in Germany.

Right-wing populism is EU’s elephant in the room

January 1, 2019

If we want to combat rampant right-wing populism in Europe, we must above all address the issue of migration, says DW’s Christoph Hasselbach.


People sitting on a fence in the North African Spanish enclave of Melilla (AFP/Getty Images/B.d. Avellaneda)

Where has the European spirit of cooperation and reconciliation gone, at the turn of the year 2019? You only have to look at the situation in a few member states to come to the conclusion that the EU is in an extremely bad state.

Crisis hotspots everywhere

Britain wants to leave the EU altogether, possibly completely unregulated; in France, former beacon of light, President Emmanuel Macron has already lost his shine. Ordinary citizens in yellow vests are taking to the streets there in droves, and some are not shying away from violence. Extremists from the right and left are trying to take advantage of the mood.

Italy’s populist government at first openly opposed the EU Commission in the budget dispute. Shortly before Christmas, the Commission made a big move towards meeting Italy’s needs, renouncing a deficit procedure that was due and selling it as a victory of reason over confrontation. Rome’s audacity should soon set a precedent.

In the dispute over the rule of law, the governments of Poland and Hungary also only give in when and exactly as much as is unavoidable. In Spain, one of the last bulwarks against right-wing populism, the strictly right-wing Vox party has now made strong gains in the region of Andalusia. It pays homage to the country’s former dictator Francisco Franco.

Read more: AfD challenges the whole political system in Germany, says German MEP

Concern about the European elections

Right-wing populism is the big phenomenon in Europe: Right-wing parties are on the rise in practically every EU country. Some of them are already form part of governments, for example in Austria and Italy. The citizens of these countries don’t seem to mind.

DW's Christoph Hasselbach


DW’s Christoph Hasselbach — Opinion writer

Germany has not been spared either. Approval ratings for the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) are not declining even though its core issue, that of immigration, is less salient. There are now far fewer migrants and refugees coming to Germany than at the height of the refugee influx in 2015-16, and Chancellor Angela Merkel has long since abandoned her liberal refugee policy. The AfD could become the strongest or second-strongest party in the upcoming elections in Germany’s eastern states in autumn.

Read more: Merkel finally faces critics in Chemnitz in wake of far-right mobs

The most significant indicator for the entire EU will come in a few months’ time with the European elections. All surveys indicate that right-wing populist and anti-European parties will then be represented even more strongly in parliament than they already are. The reasonable and moderate forces will then have an even harder time.

Merkel: “How we deal with the migration issue will determine whether Europe will last”

Merkel and the consequences 

The reasons why voters turn more politically radical are different in each member state: In France, it is the president’s self-importance. In Spain, Vox’s success is also a reaction to Catalan separatism. In Italy, the mood against the EU is fuelled primarily by dissatisfaction with the economic situation, which of course won’t be improved by populism.

But the common theme in all countries is migration that is largely uncontrolled and unwanted. As long as moderate politicians do not find an answer, this mood is unlikely to change. Three years ago, Angela Merkel drove it to extremes when she said it was not possible to close the borders and that there was no upper limit for asylum. She wanted to strong-arm the whole EU into going along with her misguided policy and has thus completely isolated herself — an approach that still reverberates throughout European politics.

If we want to improve the state of the EU, this is exactly where we need to start. People are longing for reassurance that European countries — and the EU as a whole — will regain control over migration.

Germany: We will need a general debate on the fundamental right to asylum, if we want to regulate immigration

November 22, 2018

“If we want to regulate immigration — then someday we will need a general debate on the fundamental right to asylum

One of Angela Merkel’s possible successors, Friedrich Merz, has called for a debate on the German right to seek asylum. It is a permanent principle enshrined in the country’s Basic Law constitution.

Jens Spahn, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Friedrich MerzJens Spahn, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Friedrich Merz

The three leading candidates to take over from Chancellor Angela Merkel as head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) presented their cases to a local party meeting of 500 people in Seebach near Eisenach in Thuringia on Wednesday night.

It was the third of eight regional meetings for the candidates: Jens SpahnFriedrich Merz and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

While the usual topics of education and employment came up, it was the discussion on immigration which sparked controversy.

“If we want to regulate immigration at the European level, then someday we will need a general debate on the fundamental right to asylum,” said Merz. “I have long believed that we need to think about it.”

Merkel backs UN migration pacts

Just a few hours earlier, Chancellor Angel Merkel had spoken in the Bundestag in favor of the UN migration and refugee pacts, the first global attempt to set out parameters for managing migration.

Merz said the UN pact was a non-binding treaty but he was concerned the German fundamental right to asylum should not create an additional legal right for applicants: “If Germany accedes to this pact, it must be made clear that it does not extend the grounds for asylum before the administrative courts,” he said.

The three hopefuls to become the next CDU party leader are taking part in a series of meetings.

The three hopefuls to become the next CDU party leader are taking part in a series of meetings.

Kramp-Karrenbauer backed Merkel: “I believe that this pact brings more advantages than disadvantages for us.” It would be worth arguing for. And, of course, to debate it at the CDU party congress,” she said.

Spahn said there was a need for international guidelines but raised the concern that a number of countries were not prepared to join the pact.

Austria and some eastern European countries have spoken out against the UN and EU proposals for managing migration. Austria has just lost a case at the European Court of Justice as the Luxembourg court ruled EU states can not pay refugees with temporary residence rights lower social assistance payments than their own citizens. Austria is currently working on reforms to make it more difficult for foreigners to obtain state benefits.

Germany’s constitutional right

Germany is the only country in the world that sets out an individual right to asylum within the constitution, Merz said during the third CDU regional conference in Seebach near Eisenach in Thuringia.

“At some point in the future, we have to hold a major public debate about whether to make a legal reservation in the Basic Law,” said Merz. The right to asylum is covered by the so-called “eternity clause” of Germany’s Basic Law and is one of the principles that can not be altered unless a new constitution replaces it.

The populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) has set a political agenda, especially in eastern Germany, against immigration. Recent elections in Bavaria and Hesse saw the party gain at the expense of the CDU and its sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU).

As they made their pitches, Merz said he would lead the CDU back to election results of “up to 40 percent,” as Spahn and Kramp-Karrenbauer sought out familiar faces in the CDU faithful assembled in the hall.

The CDU leadership vote is to be held at a party conference in Hamburg on December 7-8.

jm/aw (dpa, Reuters)