The North Rhine-Westphalian Office for the Protection of the Constitution has classified the AfD's youth organization, Junge Alternative (JA), in North Rhine-Westphalia as a suspected right-wing extremist case. “There is strong evidence that the Junge Alternative is not playing according to democratic rules, but rather prefers its own right-wing extremist rules,” said Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) on Tuesday. The NRW Office for the Protection of the Constitution is therefore monitoring the Junge Alternative from now on.
The AfD, on the other hand, spoke of “insinuations and assumptions”. The allegations are now being examined closely, said a spokesman for the Düsseldorf state parliamentary group. The general secretary of the NRW SPD, Frederick Cordes, accused the AfD of: "The bourgeois-conservative veneer was never more than a makeshift mask."
According to Reul, the regional association of JA NRW has shifted ideologically to the political course of the federal association of Junge Alternative since 2019. This is characterized by a “national-ethnic understanding of the people and xenophobia”. JA NRW also represents positions that violate the guarantee of human dignity. The aim in particular is to exclude and despise people with a migration background and Muslims.
Advertising for the “Identitarian Movement”
In recent years, JA NRW has developed into a part of the right-wing extremist movement of the New Right, reported Reul. The NRW AfD youth campaign on social media for the “Identitarian Movement” and its successor organizations such as “Lukreta”, “Revolte Rheinland”, “1 percent” and the “Institute for State Politics”.
The AfD's North Rhine-Westphalia youth organization also offers a forum for protagonists of the New Right. People with right-wing extremist biographies are also active in JA NRW. Another important clue is the proximity to the formally dissolved so-called wing of the AfD federal party and its ideological leader Björn Höcke.
In a suspected case, there is “sufficiently weighty factual evidence” of anti-constitutional efforts. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution can then evaluate and store personal data and, under strict conditions, use intelligence resources, such as observing or recruiting informants.
A dispute is currently pending at the Münster Higher Administrative Court between the AfD federal party and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution over the classification of the party as a suspected right-wing extremist case. The Federal Association of the AfD is defending itself against a first-instance ruling. In March 2022, the Cologne Administrative Court ruled in favor of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in classifying the AfD as a suspected case. The Federal Association of Young Alternatives also no longer wants to be classified as a suspected case.
Reul: Political confrontation necessary
The decisions of the OVG in Münster in these nationwide cases are expected in the spring. The proceedings are pending in North Rhine-Westphalia because the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has its headquarters in Cologne.
The statements from the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and several state offices against the AfD and its organizations suggested that the decision to vote yes was primarily politically motivated, argued the spokesman for the AfD parliamentary group. “The AfD is a party based on the rule of law and stands firmly on the basis of the Basic Law.” This also applies to their youth organization. “The party is taking tough action against the few who cross borders, just as we have done in the past, are currently doing and will continue to do so in the future.”
SPD General Secretary Cordes countered: “The AfD youth organization is not based on the constitution.” In fact, significant parts of the AfD tried to undermine the democratic system. "The Young Alternative collects and networks radical enemies of democracy in the right-wing extremist spectrum."
Interior Minister Reul said that regardless of the professional assessment of the AfD's youth organization, a political debate was necessary. “To achieve this, we as politically responsible people have to make good policies for the people in this country and explain them sensibly.”