BERLIN (AFP) — An entire regional chapter of Germany’s far-right AfD party has been placed under police surveillance because of its extremist tendencies, local authorities said Monday, as pressure against the anti-immigrant group mounted.
The Brandenburg chapter of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is “a suspicious case and an object of surveillance,” said a spokesman for the region’s interior ministry.
The decision will give officials in Brandenburg far-reaching powers to monitor the AfD’s institutions and officials in the state, where the party came in second in 2019 elections with 23.5 percent of the vote.
Such surveillance is reserved for groups or organizations that are deemed to pose a threat to democracy and the rule of law.
The latest official move to keep tabs on the group came three months after the party’s most radical fringe known as the Wing was also placed under police surveillance due to its association with known neo-Nazis.
The Wing, which has about 7,000 members, was co-founded by firebrand AfD lawmaker Bjoern Hoecke, who has sparked outrage with attacks on Germany’s culture of remembrance for Nazi crimes.
The Brandenburg chapter of AfD was headed by Andreas Kalbitz, who was thrown out of the party in May for concealing his past membership in a neo-Nazi outfit, “German Youths Loyal to the Fatherland.”
He continues to exert influence in the party and is challenging his expulsion in court.
Kalbitz’s sacking fanned the flames of an increasingly hostile feud between the party’s ultra-conservatives and elements with ties to the right-wing extremist scene.
Founded in 2013 as a protest party against the euro single currency, the AfD has grown and shifted further right, scooping up a significant number of votes from those unhappy with the government’s immigration policy.
It is the largest opposition group in the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament.
But the party has come under fire for fueling anti-immigration sentiment amid several right-wing extremist attacks in Germany in recent months.
A neo-Nazi sympathizer suspected of murdering a pro-immigration politician last year is to go on trial in Frankfurt on Tuesday.
© Agence France-Presse