Germany’s domestic intelligence agency is expected to announce Tuesday that it is stepping up its scrutiny of the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD), multiple German outlets report, examining whether the party has crossed the line into extremism forbidden by the country’s post-World War II constitution.
The agency, known as the Constitutional Protection Office, will announce that it will conduct a preliminary evaluation into the whole of the party’s operations nationwide, Tagesspiegel reported. It is scrutinizing the federal party as a “Prüffall” — or “test case” — the lowest level in a three-tiered system of investigation that the office conducts. This means it will only review public statements of the party and other public information, but will not rely on confidential informants or the surveillance of communication.
The agency is going a step further with two affiliated organizations, classifying them as “suspected cases” which allows them to use some limited intelligence sources in their investigation. Those inquiries will investigate the AfD’s youth group, Young Alternative, and a faction called the Wing which includes some of the AfD’s most hard-core nationalist politicians.
Spokespeople for the AfD, Young Alternative, and the Wing did not immediately respond to a BuzzFeed News request for comment, nor did a representative of the Constitutional Protection Office. Die Welt reported that the agency will hold a press conference at 3:00 pm German time to announce the monitoring.
The AfD caused widespread alarm from the rest of Germany’s political spectrum when it won seats in the national legislature for the first time in 2017 after an aggressive anti-immigrant campaign. It is the first-far right party to win federal election since the Nazis, and it has moved further to the right since taking office, including marching with even more radical anti-immigrant groups that it had barred party members from collaborating with during the campaign.
In September, the party organized a march in an eastern German city following anti-immigrant riots, and an AfD member of parliament implied other parties wanted to see a kind of genocide against Germans at a local meeting that followed. The party is now polling neck-and-neck with the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel in the region, and stands a chance of entering a state government for the first time when elections are held in Saxony this fall.
The Constitutional Protection Office is taking action against the party shortly after its former chief, Hans-Georg Massen, was removed after a series of controversies in which he was accused of being too close to the AfD. The Constitutional Protection Office rejected calls last year to place the AfD under its highest level of scrutiny — “monitoring” — though state-level agencies have placed affiliated organizations under observation in at least three states.
The youth wing is being observed because of its ties with Identitarian groups including Generation Identity, perhaps best known abroad for its 2017 stunt to sail a boat to obstruct migrant rescues in the Mediterranean. The former leader of the youth wing also employs someone aligned with Russia and accused of coordinating a terrorist action in Ukraine, an allegation he denies.