The German way of dealing with the far right

2 min
Alexander Gauland, co-chairman of the Alternative for Germany group in the Bundestag, in Berlin on Wednesday

Germany's secret services have placed the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) under surveillance. AfD is currently the leading opposition party in the Bundestag with 88 MPs in the face of the coalition government formed by the two majority parties, the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats. This has been determined by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) in a decision unheard of since the end of the Nazi regime in 1945. The BfV considers that it has sufficient evidence that the AfD is acting against constitutional principles and from now on will be able to take actions such as intercepting communications between party leaders or infiltrate its structure to collect evidence in view of an eventual illegalisation. This last step, however, would have to be decided by the German Constitutional Court.

The step taken by the German authorities raises doubts because it affects the level of dissidence that a democracy can withstand, but it is also true that it marks a very clear path on how to deal with the phenomenon of the extreme right in Europe. As chance would have it, on the same day that Viktor Orbán's MEPs have left the European People's Party group and France has disbanded a far-right group that was persecuting immigrants in the Pyrenees area. In recent years, and under the influence of Trumpism, we have seen how these parties have entered institutions and used them as a loudspeaker for their hate speech against immigrants, feminists, the LGTBI community, etc. And in the face of this, democracies have to find a way to defend themselves. But without betraying their principles or favouring the victim discourse of extremists.

Precisely now Catalonia will have to face this debate after Vox entered Parliament. Yesterday there was a first meeting between the parties of Catalanist tradition (PSC, ERC, JxCat, CUP and En Comú) to address the issue. To begin with, we already know that both PP and Ciudadanos do not want to participate in any strategy to isolate the far right, since in places like Madrid or Andalusia the governments led by these parties depend on Vox. This fact differentiates these parties from their European counterparts, which are much more restrictive when it comes to agreeing with the extreme right. This is a Spanish anomaly that will also be seen in Parliament.

Be that as it may, it would be positive if the parties that met yesterday reached a minimum agreement so that, for example, Vox was left out of the Parliamentary Bureau and that no party reaches agreements with the party. This agreement would also have the virtue of showing that, beyond the division between parties in favour and against independence, there is still a barrier separating these parties from the triple right. We will have to be prepared, however, for Vox's nonsense and the foreseeable use it will make of the Parliament. Yesterday, Vox MPs already refused to sign the Parliament's commitment against discrimination and harassment included in the equality plan approved in the last legislature.