The Lüth case and other mistakes: how the AfD dismantles itself – politics

It is a disaster for the AfD. The special thing about the statements of the old AfD strategist Christian Lüth: it is one of the few cases in which true thinking becomes public because he thinks he is in a protected space, in a private conversation with a Youtuber that he attributed to the AfD Scene.

“Think tactically, little mouse,” he tells the woman in view of the AfD’s strategic positioning. Then sentences such as: “We discussed this with Gauland for a long time: the worse Germany is doing, the better for the AfD.” Regarding the influx of migrants, he is said to have said: ‘We can shoot them all after that, that’s no problem at all, or gas, or how you want, I don’t care. ”

The AfD is followed by distance, group spokesman Lüth, who was released in April, is terminated without notice. But his case shows that right-wing populists are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain the prestige of the bourgeoisie. Party officials keep turning their backs because they no longer want to support the radical course and regional associations are drowning in a dispute. The AfD is in a serious crisis.

How did the revealing statements come about?

For the TV channel Pro Sieben, filmmaker Thilo Mischke exposed the extreme right-wing scene for a year and a half. He succeeds in the two-hour documentary “Right. German. Radical ”to gain the trust of a right-wing Youtuber named Lisa Licentia. Until then, she epitomizes the kind of press the AfD is comfortable with. It reports unfiltered and supports what the members think and say. But she breaks with it and says in the film that she is tired of the AfD’s constant relativity after verbal slippage. When asked how AfD people talk when the press isn’t watching, she says, “Racist, clearly sexist, misogynist.”

She meets Lüth, who used to work for the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Honduras and in the FDP parliamentary group, in a Berlin bar. For legal reasons, he only appears in the film as a ‘senior AfD official’ and cannot be seen hidden camera while filming.

The television journalist Thilo Mischke researched the right-wing scene for a year and a half Photo: dpa / Kay Nietfeld

Lüth falls into a trap, Licentia is a distraction. It is the night of the state elections in Hamburg and the AfD has to fear for a long time for the return of 5.3 percent. AfD party chairman Alexander Gauland calls on Lüth to give the impression that Germany’s strategy that you shouldn’t miss is exactly his line. At the same time, he admits that the bourgeois party masquerade will have to last until the seizure of power and that it is especially important: “As long as the AfD is still a bit unstable and a few idiots are anti-Semitic, we have to make sure Germany does badly. . ”

The passages are repeated in the documentary, Lüth’s face is probably not recognizable for legal reasons. But the fact that the AfD does not even try to attack the filmmaker and Pro Sieben, but Gauland opts for maximum distance and Lüth’s deportation shows how authentic the whole is. According to the party, Lüth is no longer a member of the AfD.

Why is the affair dangerous for party leader Gauland?

For a long time Lüth was regarded as a close confidant of Gauland. As for the development of the AfD, both apparently have similar ideas. Lüth’s statement that the country must be worse off for the AfD to win, recalls Gauland’s 2015 statement that the refugee crisis was a “gift” to his party.

Konrad Adam, who co-founded the AfD in 2013 and now wants to quit due to disappointment with the current course, says: “Lüth has always been a knowledgeable press spokesperson, but he is also a born scheming.” The 44-year-old has regularly surpassed his skills. when, for example, he “attempted to implement personnel policy on his own initiative”. Apparently he could always count on the support of Gauland. Even when Lüth described himself in private chat as a “fascist,” he was only released in April – not fired. He was later discussed as the parliamentary group’s “media director”, which would have been equivalent to a promotion.

The party leadership had long been aware of Lüth’s problematic attitude, former AfD leader Frauke Petry told Deutsche Welle on Tuesday: “At the latest since 2016, the AfD’s federal executive branch has known that then press spokesman Christian Lüth showed the Hitler salute.”

Konrad Adam co-founded the AfD in 2013 and is a former federal party spokesman Photo: dpa / Timm Schamberger

So why did the AfD group wait so long to get rid of their spokesperson? “Lüth knows too much,” says Adam. “He could have blown any second.”

Where are there still faults?

Trench warfare is, so to speak, the “natural state” of the AfD, Adam says. In several countries, parliamentary groups and regional associations are falling apart – and time and again the conflict between more moderate and overtly radical plays a role. Only three to four of the 16 regional associations are “intact,” says Adam. The rest was hopelessly ruined.

Frauke Petry is a former national spokeswoman for the AfD and currently an unregistered member of the German Bundestag Photo: photo alliance / Ralf Hirschbe

In Schleswig-Holstein, for example, Frank Brodehl announced that he would leave the party on Friday. This means that the three remaining AfD MPs can no longer form their own parliamentary group. “The völkisch-nationalist tone is clearly louder than the voices of those in the party who are in favor of serious and conservative AfD politics,” said Brodehl, explaining his decision. The use of Nazi vocabulary in the emails of members and the disdainful tone of the regional association would have prompted him to take this step. According to the knowledge of the security authorities in Schleswig-Holstein, the structures of the officially disbanded “wing” of the AfD will continue to exist there. His actions are now an object of observation for the protection of the constitution by the state.

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A few days ago, in a dispute between the camps, the nine-member AfD parliamentary group broke up in the Lower Saxony state parliament. Previous group leader Dana Guth and two other MPs announced their departure from the group because the direction had become too radical for them. A final attempt at reconciliation fails on Monday. Gauland wants to start a party deportation lawsuit against Guth.

In the 20-member AfD faction in the Bavarian state parliament, twelve members of the board of directors around party chairman Ingo Hahn reject it, but there is no two-thirds majority to vote. The group’s work appears to have been largely blocked. At the beginning of July, nine of the 22 group members in the Lower House in Berlin complained in a public letter about a “climate of mistrust and destructiveness”.

The Berlin AfD party leader Georg Padzerski with his fellow party member Beatrix von Storch Photo: REUTERS / Fabrizio Bensch

In particular, incumbent group leader Georg Pazderski’s management style and the way he dealt with employees, described as “absolutely unworthy”, were criticized. The camps have since been restored. Members of the AfD parliamentary group are dueling in court, former employees are suing their dismissals – several proceedings are still ongoing.

What role does President Haldenwang play in protecting the constitution?

The attempts to instrumentalize the protests against the corona measures show just how much the AfD is looking for crisis topics to stir the mood in times of uncertainty. When, after the great demonstration in Berlin, there was talk – exaggeratedly – of the storming of the Reichstag, it was forgotten that some clear enemies of democracy had long been inside, in parliament. It may be a coincidence, but when Hans-Georg Maaßen was still head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the AfD was not viewed nearly as intensely, the masquerade lasted – and the rise led to temporary ingratitude of the Union AfD positions.

Thomas Haldenwang has been chairman of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution since November 2018. Photo: AFP / Bernd von Jutrczenka

Now ever sharper dividing lines are being drawn. And with Thomas Haldenwang, someone heads the German intelligence service who shows a clear advantage. Right-wing extremism is currently the biggest threat to democracy in Germany, he says. He has placed the most radical AfD movement, the “wing” around the Thuringian faction leader Björn Höcke, under observation. Haldenwang calls Höcke and the Brandenburg MP Andreas Kalbitz, who was initially expelled from the party, openly right-wing extremists.

Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) had predicted in March that Höcke would sooner or later take over the party completely, which could lead to a final split. According to Thuringia’s group leader, more and more moderate forces are being fled. Söder told the Funke media that Höcke was adopting the methods of his role models from the 1920s and 1930s: “Discrediting people, abusing democratic rules for his own ends.”

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