Germany’s domestic intelligence agency is reportedly planning to place the far-right Alternative for Germany party under heightened scrutiny amid concerns that it is flirting with extremism.
News outlets including weekly Der Spiegel and news agency dpa reported Tuesday that the BfV agency will examine public comments by the party’s members and its links to extremist groups, but stop short of putting the party under covert surveillance. The Tagesspiegel newspaper reported, however, that limited covert surveillance is being considered for the party’s youth wing and a faction within the party linked to a prominent leader in the east, Bjoern Hoecke.
BfV chief Thomas Haldenwang has called an afternoon news conference in Berlin to discuss the agency’s monitoring of the party. The BfV, whose task is to prevent groups from undermining the German constitution, has spent months collecting material on Alternative for Germany.
The party, which came third in national elections in 2017, has moved steadily to the right since it was founded six years ago as a vehicle for critics of the euro currency. Several senior figures have quit the party in recent years, warning that it is being taken over by far-right extremists.
Following reports about possible observation by the BfV agency last year, the party called on members to refrain from making comments that might be considered extremist.
It also expelled three party members who attended a neo-Nazi festival at which some participants openly displayed their support for Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
A leading member of the center-left Social Democratic Party, Eva Hoegl, said the BfV’s reported decision to more closely scrutinize Alternative for Germany was “right and long overdue.”
“Sections of the party have direct links to the right-wing extremist scene and are clearly hostile to the constitution,” she said.
Alternative for Germany’s leaders planned to make a statement later in the day.