Reports of a meeting of right-wing extremists in Potsdam are driving thousands of demonstrators. The government parties are now also taking an increasingly decisive stance against the right – and against the AfD.
After the revelation about a meeting of radical right-wingers in Potsdam, Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck urgently warned against the AfD. “The right-wing authoritarians are concerned with an attack on the essence of the republic,” the Green politician told the magazine “Stern”. “Anyone who wants to undermine democracy must be held accountable using the means of the constitutional state.” SPD leader Lars Klingbeil called AfD leader Alice Weidel “a right-wing extremist” on ntv on Wednesday. Chancellor Olaf Scholz thanked the tens of thousands who have been demonstrating against the right in many places for days.
They took to the streets “against racism, hate speech and for our free democracy,” the SPD politician wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “That’s encouraging and shows that there are many of us Democrats – much more than those who want to divide.”
Thousands demonstrate in Freiburg and Berlin
Several thousand people also demonstrated against right-wing extremism in Berlin and Freiburg on Wednesday evening. The organizers of the Freiburg demonstration reported 10,000 participants. A police spokesman estimated there were 6,000 to 7,000 people. An alliance of local party youth organizations called for the rally.
According to the police, around 2,000 people took to the streets in Berlin. They gathered with posters like “Nazis out” and slogans against AfD politician Björn Höcke in front of the Red City Hall, the seat of the governing mayor Kai Wegner. According to police, the rally went off without incident.
Union of Values confirms participation of two members
Last week, the media company Correctiv reported on a previously unknown meeting in Potsdam in November, in which, in addition to right-wing activists, politicians from the AfD and the CDU also took part. The Values Union association has now officially confirmed for the first time that two of its members were also there.
“The now confirmed participation of members of the Union of Values in the right-wing extremist meeting in Potsdam shows the danger and successes of right-wing extremist strategies: politicians from the supposed middle of the political spectrum have long been involved in the networking,” explained Green Party member of the Bundestag Irene Mihalic and Konstantin von Notz.
At the meeting, the former head of the right-wing extremist Identitarian movement in Austria, Martin Sellner, said he spoke about the concept of so-called remigration. When right-wing extremists use this term, they usually mean that large numbers of people of foreign origin should leave the country – even under duress.
Correctiv’s report attracted a lot of attention. For Wednesday evening in Berlin, the editorial team is planning a staged reading in the Berliner Ensemble with the results of the research and some new details.
Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution: There have already been four networking meetings
According to the first report, AfD leader Weidel separated from her colleague Roland Hartwig, who was at the Potsdam meeting. Otherwise, the AfD describes the event as “private” and criticizes Correctiv. The Union of Values made a similar statement about the participation of its two members: the two women “stayed there as invited private guests,” it said in a statement.
However, according to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the meeting was not the first of its kind: the Vice President of the Federal Office, Sinan Selen, said in a non-public meeting of the Bundestag Interior Committee, according to participants, that there had already been four networking meetings of this kind in which politicians met actors from the so-called New Right.
The Berlin AfD chairwoman Kristin Brinker confirmed her participation in a meeting with the radical right in the apartment of the former CDU finance senator Peter Kurth in the summer of 2023. According to Brinker, Martin Sellner was also there – to her surprise, as Brinker announced upon request. The AfD European politician Maximilian Krah presented his book “Politics from the Right” there.
Debate about deprivation of fundamental rights
As a result of the Correctiv research, the debate about a possible AfD ban has picked up speed again. Habeck told “Stern” that only the Federal Constitutional Court would decide on a ban. The hurdles are rightly very high and the damage caused by a failed procedure would be massive. “So everything would have to be absolutely legal. You have to think about that very carefully.” Either way, the democratic parties would have to beat the AfD politically. In surveys nationwide, the AfD is at over 20 percent, and in Saxony and Thuringia it is even over 30 percent.
In addition to a possible ban application, an application to deprive prominent constitutional enemies of basic rights is also being discussed. By Wednesday afternoon, a signature collection directed against the Thuringian AfD party and parliamentary group leader Björn Höcke had recorded almost 1.3 million signatures. The Thuringian AfD regional association is classified as right-wing extremist by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.
The left raised another demand. “A first step would be a ban on the AfD’s youth organization,” said deputy party leader Katina Schubert to the German Press Agency. “A ban on JA would be much easier and quicker because it is not protected by party status. A ban would be possible here through a simple ministerial decree.”
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.