They are fighting for a ban on the AfD. Which party do you receive the most support from? Relative to the size of the party, I receive the most support from the Greens. But there is also a lot of support from the Union, SPD, Left Party and non-party local politicians.
What about your own party? There is also a lot of support here. For example, a CDU local chairman from Lower Saxony just contacted me to tell me that his city association had spoken out in favor of banning the AfD. In fact, the leadership of all parties is still keeping a low profile.
Your party leader Friedrich Merz is not just keeping a low profile. He said last summer that he rejected an AfD ban. We now have a different situation. Two other state associations of the AfD were classified as definitely right-wing extremist by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. The research network Correctiv has just reported on a secret meeting with AfD politicians at which plans were made to revoke the citizenship of thousands of Germans and deport them to Africa. If further proof were needed, here it is: The AfD is becoming increasingly radical. And that is not without consequences. Sensitivity has grown in all other parties that there is a great danger to our country and our democracy. The AfD ban issue is gaining momentum.
Two members of your party are said to have been present at the secret meeting. How should we deal with them? Our Secretary General Carsten Linnemann has already made a clear statement on this. Anyone who radicalizes themselves like this is wrong in our party. However, these are only a few marginal figures for us. For the AfD it is the first and second row.
According to surveys, the AfD is currently the second strongest force nationwide, and even the strongest in Thuringia, Saxony and Brandenburg, where a new state parliament will be elected in the fall. Isn't it too late for a ban? In its second ruling on the NPD ban process, the Federal Constitutional Court decided that right-wing radical parties must be "effective" enough to be banned. There is nothing in the Basic Law that says you can no longer be banned just because you are “too big”. And one more thing: I've been campaigning for a ban on the AfD for two years. At first it was often said that the party was not relevant enough for such proceedings. Now some say it's too big. I can only answer: What is the alternative? If you're standing in a burning house, it's no use talking to the arsonists. The fire must be extinguished and the arsonists must be prevented from further acts.
Opponents of a ban see this as an attempt to eliminate a political opponent. The AfD is afraid. But there is no fundamental right to be a right-wing radical. I am prepared to enter into democratic competition with any constitutional party. But not with right-wing radicals who want to destroy our democracy.
Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) does not believe that a party ban will be successful. You have to be “100 percent sure that it will be successful” if you aim for it, because failure would be a huge PR victory for the AfD. Are you 100 percent sure? Among lawyers we have the joke "In court and on the high seas you are in God's hands". There has never been a procedure like this in the history of the Federal Republic, only similar ones. There is no guarantee that it will be successful. But if we wait for further radicalization, it may be too late. Especially since this process will probably take around two years, maybe even longer.
According to the Federal Constitutional Court, a party must engage in an “active, combative manner” against democracy in order to be banned. Where do you see this happening in the AfD? For example, there is the constant contempt for democracy and its institutions by AfD politicians. But the central point is the ethnic-racial-ethno-homogeneous image of Germans, which the AfD wants to enforce. Keyword “remigration”. This is clearly in contradiction to Article 1 of the Basic Law, human dignity. In addition, there is anti-Semitism, hatred and fantasies of exclusion against minorities such as the disabled or the LGBTQ community. The AfD wants to destroy democracy from within.
Why do so many people still sympathize with the AfD? We have been in a constant crisis for years: financial crisis, refugee crisis, Corona, the Russian war of aggression. This is a great burden for people. In recent months, the AfD has gained a lot of support, not least due to a weak federal government. But these are people you can win back.
You cannot win back those who have been supporters of this party for years. They vote for AfD because it is right-wing radical, not despite it. Studies show: Around ten percent of Germans have a closed right-wing extremist worldview. This factor is more than twice as high in the East as in the West. The democratic parties actually cannot make any offer to these people.
But?We shouldn't try to talk to right-wing radicals for the fifth time without results. But fight them and strengthen civil society. Those who work for democracy, diversity and togetherness in the municipalities. They are increasingly asking themselves: Who is actually still interested in us?
Can the Wagenknecht party take votes from the AfD? I don't think so. The traditional AfD voter would never vote for a party that only has people with a migrant background on its board, such as Ms. Wagenknecht herself. The similarities in content, such as with Russia policy, can be so great. Why should AfD supporters choose a copy when they feel comfortable with the original? I believe that the Wagenknecht party will unfortunately continue to undermine the democratic parties, but will hardly cost the AfD anything.
What are the next steps for you with regard to the AfD ban process? I have been holding discussions with other politicians for months. My draft application is ready. We are waiting for the appeal ruling from the Münster Higher Administrative Court, which will decide whether the Office for the Protection of the Constitution was allowed to classify the AfD as a suspected case nationwide. The AfD had sued against it. In the second quarter I would like to submit the proposal for a ban on the AfD in the Bundestag.
What do you expect from Friedrich Merz and Olaf Scholz? I hope that both of them will see the drama of the situation and the size of the problem and support a ban.
Anyone who publicly opposes the AfD often becomes a target of hatred. How do you experience this and how do you deal with it? In fact, I also receive a lot of threats. Most of it is anonymous, but not everything, I then show that. There was once a major pyrotechnic attack on my constituency office in which the window was destroyed. The AfD has also created a much more threatening atmosphere in the Bundestag. Hatred and agitation, that doesn't just affect me. When I work late at night, I lock my office from the inside. Of course, sometimes you ask yourself: Is it worth it? So far I have always answered yes to this question. If everyone gave up, the AfD would have won.