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Parties: Dispute over AfD party conference – will the cancellation of the hall remain the same?

Parties: Dispute over AfD party conference – will the cancellation of the hall remain the same?
Parties: Dispute over AfD party conference – will the cancellation of the hall remain the same?

600 AfD delegates want to meet in two weeks for the federal party conference in Essen. But the trade fair has terminated the rental contract. Was that legal? And what are the anti-AfD demonstrators doing?

At the end of June, the AfD plans to elect a new executive board at a federal party conference with 600 delegates in Essen’s Grugahalle. But the city’s trade fair subsidiary has terminated the rental agreement. The AfD is appealing against this at the regional court and at the administrative court.

At the same time, tens of thousands of AfD opponents are getting ready for demonstrations. On Monday, the Essen district court will be considering one of the lawsuits. Will the cancellation of the hall be legally valid and what can we expect if the party conference does go ahead as planned?

What was the reason for terminating the rental agreement?

The rental agreement with the AfD for the Grugahalle is almost one and a half years old. From the city’s point of view, however, the party has become significantly more radical since the contract was signed. The city points, among other things, to the sentencing of the AfD parliamentary group leader Björn Höcke in Thuringia to a fine for using the banned SA slogan “Everything for Germany”.

In order to prevent such statements at the party conference, the city council demanded a voluntary commitment from the AfD. The party refused. The contract was then terminated.

How does the AfD argue at the regional court?

The AfD considers the termination of the contract to be unlawful and insists on compliance with its rental agreement. The focus of the discussion is a specific clause in the contract, as the regional court announced. According to this, termination is possible if “facts exist that give rise to fears that (the) event will disrupt public safety or order.” But is that the case here? The AfD wants to prove the opposite at the oral hearing at the regional court. It also considers the formula to be far too vague and unspecific to justify termination.

What is the second complaint before the administrative court about?

Here, the AfD as a party and the Essen AfD council group are attacking the Essen council resolution and the resulting termination of the contract in two extensive motions. An advance assurance to prevent criminal slogans cannot be implemented in practice with several hundred delegates plus guests, says AfD Vice President Peter Boehringer.

In addition, the discussion on the city council resolution was added to the city council’s agenda at short notice, in violation of the notice periods. The resolution is therefore void for formal reasons.

How good are the AfD’s chances?

Both courts are reticent to assess the chances of the AfD lawsuits. However, the so-called obligation to contract, which arises from the municipal code, speaks in favor of the party conference in Essen: If other parties were allowed to use the hall – which was the case at a CDU federal party conference in 2016, for example – a municipal owner cannot simply refuse to use it for a single party. Of course, exceptions are possible.

The AfD assumes that the party conference will take place as planned. If it loses in one of the two courts, it will appeal to the next higher instance, the party said. There is “no plan B” for a different location.

When will there be a decision?

A decision could be made this Friday for the lawsuits before the administrative court, which are being negotiated in written proceedings. The chamber would like to decide on the civil lawsuit at the regional court on Monday, if possible, on the same day. However, the decision would not yet be legally binding. There is a 14-day deadline for appeals or complaints to the Higher Regional Court in Hamm or the Higher Administrative Court in Münster.

How are AfD opponents preparing for the party conference?

Regardless of the legal tug-of-war, a broad alliance of the city, churches, unions, companies and initiatives is organizing the protest against the AfD party conference. Tens of thousands of demonstrators are expected. It could be the largest rally that Essen has seen in many years.

The main event is planned to take place in a trade fair car park right next to the Grugahalle, where the AfD plans to hold its party conference. Buses will bring demonstrators from all over Germany to Essen. There will be tents for up to 6,000 demonstrators from outside the city on the Ruhr. Music and cabaret events are also planned as part of the anti-AfD protests.

Where is there potential for conflict with the police?

The security forces are in full operation throughout the weekend. There are calls for “civil disobedience” in the left-wing scene. Among other things, activists want to use blockades to prevent the AfD delegates from even coming to the party conference in the Grugahalle. The police announced that they are prepared for such forms of protest.

The emergency services must ensure that both the party conference and the registered counter-events can take place, a police spokesman stressed. In terms of personnel, this is a major undertaking for the police in North Rhine-Westphalia – especially since the round of 16 matches of the European Football Championship are taking place in Dortmund, Gelsenkirchen and Cologne at the same time as the party conference.

Source: Stern

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