Germany: Tens of thousands against the right in the streets

Since the research site Corrective reported on the gathering near Potsdam, which was used to network and raise money, a wider protest has been building in Germany. Although CDU members – and those who have since been expelled – attended the secret meeting, the protests that have been taking place in the streets of several cities for several days have been mainly aimed at the AfD. State elections are being held this year in the federal states of Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg – with the AfD leading the polls everywhere, in some cases clearly.

Demos in Germany began last weekend, with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbach also participating in a rally in Potsdam. Participation consistently exceeds expectations. In Cologne, for example, 1,000 demonstrators were registered on Tuesday evening, but despite the bitter cold, according to the police, there were 30,000 in the end.

Terrorism analyst on right-wing counter-terrorism

Extremism and radicalization researcher Julia Ebner talks about anti-right-wing protests in Germany and a possible ban on the AfD. He also talks about the dangers posed by right-wing radical parties.

90 demos are planned for the weekend

The number of demos continues to grow, and a total of 90 rallies across the country have been registered over the weekend, according to a list on the portal Together-against-rights.org as of Friday afternoon. In Munich alone, more than 200 organizations have called for a large demonstration on Sunday, and more than 30,000 people are expected there.

According to police, more than 50,000 people marched in Hamburg on Friday. According to the “Hamburger Abendblatt”, the demonstration ended here later in the afternoon for security reasons. There was also concern that “people might fall into Ulster”.

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Visits motivated by celebrity participation don't seem to be slowing down. Musicians such as Udo Lindenberg and actor Matthias Brandt were invited to participate, and several German Bundesliga clubs also clearly positioned themselves. “Never again and now! Everyone come around,” said FSV Mainz 05. It was five to twelve, FC Freiburg's coach Christian Streich said. Leipzig coach Marco Rose said: “I believe it is very important to stand up against stupidity and right-wing extremism in all its forms.”

Hamburg: 50,000 in anti-rightist demonstration

According to the AFP news agency, 50,000 people took part in the anti-rightist demonstration in the German city of Hamburg. It had to be stopped early as more people than expected arrived. Many celebrities have also called to participate in this demonstration.

Unions and trade unions agree

These calls are supported in many places by large social coalitions, in which cultural institutions, as well as the SPD, the Greens and the Left, as well as churches and trade unions participate.

Even business, traditionally reluctant to make political statements, took a public stance. Several German corporate bosses, such as chipmaker Infineon, trust group Bosch and chemical company Evonik, have expressed their concern that Europe's biggest economy could be threatened by right-wing extremism – and the scramble for foreign skilled workers. “These thoughts of endangering the constitution are poison for Germany as a business destination,” said Lars Redlichs, managing director of Düsseldorf Airport.

The “silent majority” makes itself heard

The German Office for the Protection of the Constitution classifies parts of the AfD as right-wing extremists – and it has for a long time. However, never before has such a large scale of opposition developed in society. At the moment, sociologist Armin Nazehi told dpa that people who have long been waiting for a suitable opportunity to take a stand against the AfD are taking to the streets.

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It can actually be described as a silent majority. Now is the moment when this majority “realizes something is at stake,” Nassi said. “And then, for once, she lets herself be heard.”

A tough debate about prohibition

This week, there was a tense moment in the German Bundestag, in which politicians from all factions except the AfD warned of the party's danger. There was talk of “wolves in sheep's clothing” and “enemies of democracy”. The debate over a long-considered ban on the AfD has now gained momentum again. The government, the Bundesrat and the Bundestag may submit the relevant application to the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe.

According to “taz”, at least 49 members of the Bundestag are currently in favor of the ban procedure, but such a decision would be highly controversial. For example, former German President Joachim Kock said that in a liberal democracy there are alternatives to prohibition.

Pfeifer (ORF) for the AfD.

Andreas Pfeifer talks about the protests against the AfD and deportation plans in Germany.

Swing from Mers

The FDP and CDU spoke out against the AfD ban. “In the end, only the AfD will benefit from this,” said FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai. For CDU leader Friedrich Merz, the matter is even more delicate: last summer he spoke in favor of a more pragmatic approach to the AfD, thereby immediately sparking a debate in his party about whether the “firewall” against the AfD still exists.

In the super-election year of 2024, Merz declared war on the AfD: “We will go into these elections with the clearest, most fierce fight, especially against the AfD,” Merz said. He also clearly distinguished himself from the party's own values ​​Sangha Sangha. “We will not tolerate CDU members colluding with such people,” Merz said.

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The union of values ​​goes its own way

Members of this Values ​​Association attended a meeting near Potsdam, and expulsion proceedings were initiated against at least one representative. On Saturday, the Union of Values ​​wants to decide at a general meeting whether to found its own party. Your boss at the time was the former head of the Constitutional Protection Office and CDU politician Hans-Georg Maaßen. From the beginning of 2023, the party removal proceedings against him are ongoing. The CDU was accused of using “language from the context of anti-Semitic and conspiracy ideologues, including racial expressions”.

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