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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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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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What's going on with the far right in Germany?

A few days ago, despite an ongoing pandemic, nearly 40,000 people poured into the streets of Berlin to express outrage at the government's handling of the crisis. Some of them called on Putin and Trump to "liberate" the country.

Many observers have since interpreted the mass protests as a show of strength by Germany's far-right movement, particularly the populist Alternative for Germany party (AfD), the largest opposition party in the Bundestag that triumphed in the 2017 national elections. But is this really a sign of the growing prominence of the far right, or are there other dynamics at play?

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