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German far-right leader used banned Nazi slogan, court rules – POLITICO

Höcke is a key leader of the party’s most extreme wing. He first gained international attention for a 2017 speech deploring the construction of a Holocaust memorial near Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. Calling the Germans “the only people in the world to have erected a memorial of shame in the heart of their capital,” Höcke demanded a “180-degree turnaround” in the country’s “politics of memory.” In 2019, a court ruled that he could rightly be called a “fascist” because of his views.

Despite – or perhaps because of – the controversies, Höcke’s influence within the party has grown in recent years. He enjoys strong support in Thuringia, near the Czech border, where he is running to become prime minister before regional elections in September.

In a recent poll, the AfD was by far the most popular party in Thuringia, with 30 percent support. Nationally, the party comes in second with around 18 percent.

Höcke maintained that he was unaware that the banned slogan had been used by Hitler’s storm troops. His critics rejected this defense, pointing out that Höcke was a history professor before his years in the AfD.

In light of the country’s Nazi past, the German constitution contains provisions aimed at preventing authoritarian politicians from using democratic means to gain power – a system Germans call “defensive democracy.” Parties deemed undemocratic and extremist can have their public funding revoked, be monitored by national intelligence services – and even banned. The law also prohibits the use of “symbols of unconstitutional and terrorist organizations.”

A high court ruled Monday that Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the intelligence agency charged with monitoring anti-constitutional groups inside the country, was correct in classifying the AfD as an “extremist” organization. presumed”. This designation allows the agency to monitor party politicians through wiretaps and informants.

News Source : www.politico.eu
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