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Disgraced AfD leader Maximilian Krah.

DPA via Reuters

Euro Parliament group expels AfD

Even the far right has its limits. The European Parliament’s “Identity and Democracy” group of populist right-wing parties – including the Alternative for Germany, France’s National Rally, and Italy’s League, among others – expelled all nine AfD members on Thursday.

The move comes just weeks ahead of European Parliament elections on June 9 in which the far right is expected to make serious gains. It also comes a day after Maximilian Krah, head of AfD, said he’d step down over two scandals – one involving a senior staffer being charged with spying for China, and another stemming from Krah telling an Italian newspaper that not all members of the Nazi SS were war criminals. But sacrificing Krah wasn’t enough – and National Rally leader Marine Le Pensaid her party needed a “clean break” from AfD.

The expulsion was a bold move, given the AfD’s popularity. As recently as January, it was Germany’s second most popular party, polling at 22%, though it has since dropped six percentage points to tie for second place with the Social Democrat Party.

Polls have predicted the Identity and Democracy group’s number of seats in the European Parliament could rise from 59 to about 84 (some predicted a high of 93 before AfD’s recent scandals). National Rally, meanwhile, is surging in the polls.

Apart from hurting its reputation, expulsion means AfD loses access to the group’s shared resources, collective voice in parliament, and possibly some funding. But it doesn’t mean AfD members can’t run. In fact, party leaders said Thursday that they remained optimistic about the election. “We are confident we will continue to have reliable partners at our side in the new legislative period,” they said.

Property investor Heinrich XIII Prinz Reuss and his lawyers arrive for his trial for a suspected "Reichsbuerger" plot to overthrow Germany's democracy in a courtroom in Frankfurt, Germany, May 21, 2024.

Boris Roessler/Pool via REUTERS

German prince goes on trial over alleged coup plot

In news that might make you wonder what year it is, a trial for a German prince accused of spearheading a failed, far-right coup plot began on Tuesday.

Heinrich XIII Prince Reuss, 72, is being tried alongside eight others — including ex-lawmaker Birgit Malsack-Winkemann and several ex-army officers — for alleged involvement in the scheme.

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Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla, chairs of the AfD parliamentary group, comment in the German Bundestag on the ruling of the North Rhine-Westphalian Higher Administrative Court on the classification of the AfD as a suspected right-wing extremist organization.

DPA / Picture Alliance via Reuters

Court ruling: “Germany can spy on the AfD”

A German court ruled Monday that the country’s domestic intelligence agency, BfV, was correct to designate the Alternative for Germany, aka AfD, one of the country’s most popular political parties, as a suspected extremist group, making state surveillance of its activities legal.
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A demonstrator holds a sign reading "Hate makes you small" at a rally organized by the German Trade Union Confederation on "For Democracy and Solidarity" on Jan. 27, 2024.

Reuters Marketplace - DPA Multimedia Wire

A black eye for Germany’s far right

Every few months, there is new media coverage of a surge in public support across Europe for populists identified as “far right,” meaning that their policies reflect a kind of tribalist, anti-immigrant anger. The trend is real. We’ve seen it in different forms in every major country in Europe. But less media coverage is devoted to the political backlash these parties sometimes provoke when their opponents can argue they’ve gone too far. That’s real too.
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Protesters march while carrying placards and chanting slogans in the "Feminists March Against Femicide" in Kenya.

James Wakibia/SOPA Images/Sipa USA

Hard Numbers: Kenyans march against femicide, Corruption costs Ukrainian defense, Germans protest far right, Evergrande tries to avoid liquidation (again), Say more than ‘Oui’ to Paris!

14: So far this year, 14 women have been murdered as a result of gender-based violence in Kenya, and thousands took to the streets in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, on Saturday in response. Nearly a third of Kenyan women face physical violence at some point in their lives, while 13% are victims of sexual violence, according to a 2023 government report.

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FILE PHOTO: A placard reads, "deport AFD now", during nationwide protests against racism and plans of Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany (AFD) party to deport foreigners, in Bonn, Germany, January 21, 2024.

REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

Can Germany defund its own far-right?

Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled Tuesday that the small far-right Die Heimat party may not receive funding from the federal government because of its anti-democratic and ethno-nationalist goals. Die Heimat isn’t a big player in German politics, but the Alternative für Deutschland is. And as AfD is drawing the support of about 23% of Germans, according to recent polls, centrist parties are eyeing the same pathway to box them out financially.

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Jörg Prophet, AfD candidate for mayor in Nordhausen, stands in the city center.

DPA/Picture Alliance via Reuters

Hard Numbers: German far right comes up short, Ukraine dreams of drones, a space rock arrives on earth, world trade slows

54.9%: In an upset, Jörg Prophet, of the far-right Alternative for Germany party, lost a promising bid for mayor of Nordhausen the office on Sunday, as incumbent Kai Buchmann kept his job, winning 54.9% of the vote. The AfD has been polling at 21.5% nationwide, but has even more support in Thuringia, which is where Nordhausen is located.

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AfD holds "Future for Germany" rally in Erfurt.

IMAGO/Karina Hessland via Reuters Connect

Why is Germany’s far right surging?

For extremely obvious reasons, it’s always a little unsettling when the far-right is having a good moment in German politics.

That’s exactly what’s happening now as the avowedly anti-immigrant and Euroskeptic Alternative for Deutschland Party, known as AfD, is now neck-and-neck with the Social Democrats, the party of Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The AfD, which is polling at 19% (to the SPD’s 20%), is closing in on becoming the country’s second most popular political faction. The Christian Democratic Union Party still holds the top spot at 27%.

What explains AfD’s recent upward trajectory, and what does it tell us about the state of German politics 18 months after former Chancellor Angela Merkel left the stage, ending 16 years at the helm?

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