After days of unrest in eastern Germany, German politicians are calling for the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) to be placed under police surveillance. In a move that is seen as precursor to a nationwide surveillance of the party, German authorities placed the youth wing of the AfD in the states of Lower Saxony and Bremen under police observation.

Thomas Oppermann, the vice president of the German parliament, said the German intelligence service BfV should monitor the AfD party for possible links to far-right groups. “The refugee question divides society, and the AfD is riding ever more radically on this wave,” Oppermann told German newspaper Die Welt. “That is why security services should be watching the collaboration between the AfD and neo-Nazis very closely.”

Eastern Germany has been hit by a string of protests after the fatal stabbing of a German by a group of Arab immigrants in the city of Chemnitz. Thousands took to the streets since early last week calling for an end to Chancellor Angel Merkel’s open borders policy.

Politicians from Merkel’s Christian Democratic party (CDU) also called for similar measures against the AfD:

Patrick Sensburg, security spokesperson for the CDU, told [public broadcaster] NDR Info that the AfD needs to be monitored by the domestic intelligence service (BfV). “Surely, most of the AfD members are not right-wing extremists, but there are part of the party structure that should be classified as anti-constitutional,” Sensburg told [the newspaper] Handelsblatt. Armin Schuster, the CDU’s expert on interior policy, had recently called for the AfD to be place under scrutiny by the domestic intelligence service at the state-level. The AfD is “increasingly becoming a case for the domestic intelligence services,” especially as [the AfD] party chief Alexander Gauland “has to distance himself for the faux pas by one of his fellow party member on monthly-basis,” Schuster said. [translated by the author]

Founded in 2013, the AfD emerged as the third-largest party in parliament last year after it won nearly 13 percent of the vote.

German business newspaper Handelsblatt reported the attempts by the established parties to put the AfD on state surveillance:

This week politicians from Germany’s more mainstream parties were calling for closer surveillance of the AfD’s links with these kinds of groups. If it happens, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution would be given the job.

Historically, this office, known as the BfV, has had the task of monitoring extremism in Germany. The BfV is almost unique in Europe (Hungary and Austria also have something similar) and was created in 1950 by Allied powers to surveil a resurgent Communist party as well as keep an eye out for any kind of Nazi party revival after World War II. It was set up under the auspices of protecting Germany’s brand new constitution. [Handelsblatt, September 3, 2018]

The AfD, on the other hand, accused the established parties of using the state apparatus to stem party’s rising popularity. “The call for the AfD to be observed by the BfV is more than a desperate act by the helpless older parties. We’re seeing the desire for an abuse of power unmatched in reunified Germany,” said Andreas Kalbitz, the top AfD politician from the state of Brandenburg.

The tough talk by the politicians from the Merkel’s ruling coalitions apparently didn’t harm the party since the AfD became the second biggest party in a latest opinion poll. With 17 percent of the popular support, the party is trailing only Merkel’s Christian Democratic party (CDU).

The surging poll numbers for the AfD is part of the wider trend in Europe. Ahead of the Sunday’s vote, the Sweden Democrats are polling between 20 and 25 percent, making them potentially the second largest party in parliament. Italy, Austria, and most of the eastern European countries are governed by anti-EU and anti-mass immigration parties.

The excesses by the European Union and Chancellor Merkel’s open borders policy have triggered a ‘Patriotic Spring’ across Europe–to use a phrase coined by the Dutch politician Geert Wilders. With mainstream media failing to sway public opinion against the anti-establishment parties and movements, political establishment now seeks to criminalize dissent by using state apparatus.

Video: Street clashes in eastern Germany after deadly stabbing spree by immigrant suspects

[Cover image via YouTube]