Germany’s domestic intelligence agency has classified the youth wing of Alternative for Germany (AfD), a far-right nationalist party, as an extremist group that threatens the constitution. As reported by The New York Times, this decision comes just a year after intelligence officials put the entire party under surveillance – the first time such action had been taken against a main political opposition party in Germany’s postwar history.
The spy agency reclassified the “Young Alternative” unit of AfD after monitoring it for four years. This move is yet another blow to an organization that has come under increasing scrutiny over concerns of radicalization. The government also labeled two other far-right institutions as right-wing extremists on Wednesday – the Institute for State Policy and the One Percent group. Both organizations are part of what is called the New Right in Germany, a conservative ideological movement that promotes violent, anti-democratic, and racist ideas.
Once a group is classified as extremist, its members could lose employment opportunities in the public sector and the ability to obtain or maintain weapons licenses. Domestic intelligence services, who already had the groups under surveillance, will also more quickly receive authority to tap or surveil group members. “There is no longer any doubt that these three groups of people are pursuing anti-constitutional aspirations,” said the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the intelligence agency known by its German initials BfV.
Tino Chrupalla and Alice Weidel, two leaders in the party, called the decision an “outrageous action.” “We currently have neither a reason nor corresponding documents that make this step comprehensible,” they said in a statement. “Of course, we are already examining the use of legal recourse.”
Despite marching with neo-Nazis in street rallies against coronavirus regulations and in protests against Germany’s support for Ukraine against Russia, the AfD enjoys pockets of support in state entities like the police and the military. Debate over potential far-right infiltration into the heart of German democracy turned into concrete threats over the past year: Some AfD members were involved in a fantastical plot to try and overthrow the government, which German security forces foiled quickly in December.
In its statement on Wednesday, Germany’s domestic spy agency said that the Young Alternative had made “agitation against refugees and migrants a constant, central theme,” particularly against Muslims. The group is also working against “the principle of democracy” by denigrating political opponents and the state, the BfV said. “The Youth Alternative is not concerned with debate of matters at hand but a general disparagement of the democratic system of the Federal Republic of Germany,” it said.
AfD recieved more than 10% of the vote in the last election, in 2021.