The president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) Thomas Haldenwang, apparently reckless and despite doubts as to whether this is permissible, declared the AfD a “test case” in early 2019. This is evident from a memorandum from the BfV in which the official public relations work on the then classification was examined in advance. Accordingly, there were “legal objections” to the provisions of the Constitutional Protection Act, according to which the public should be informed of unconstitutional efforts by the parties only if there are “significant factual indications”. This describes what is known as a suspicious case. However, the law does not provide for classification as a mere “test case”.
The measure could deter voters, the court said
Just a few weeks after the classification, the Cologne Administrative Court banned Haldenwang after an AfD lawsuit from continuing to designate the party as a “test case”. But by then the news had spread everywhere. In addition, there was an extensive BfV report to justify this assessment with numerous evidence. At the time, the judges found that the much-branded measure affected the AfD in its constitutionally protected freedom of parties and its general personal rights. The statement was an “indirectly severe negative sanction” that could deter voters.
Haldenwang had only been in office for a few weeks at the time and, as the successor to the controversial Hans-Georg Maaßen, was clearly trying to pick up a faster pace with the AfD. Despite legal doubts, his approach raises the question of whether he has exceeded the mark. In view of the memorandum that has since become known, it is in any case clear why he accepted the defeat at the administrative court instead of filing a complaint with the following authority, as the suspect regularly does in such cases – the BfV boss had in the further proceedings apparently do not expect the slightest chance. from.
The office only provided information after the Tagesspiegel complaint
The federal office declined to comment on the matter. A communication does mention that the public classification ‘test case’ is expected to have a ‘relieving function’ for the party, because the discussion required a next step at that time and that the party as such had to look back from the BfV.
The BfV has so far withheld that Haldenwang had his proceedings legally assessed at that time and that there was a note with “concerns”. Officially it was said that information was not possible because any form of communication about the “test case” was prohibited by law. Following a complaint from Tagesspiegel (Az .: 6 L 575/19), also before the Cologne Administrative Court, the office corrected its position, but still does not want to explain how serious the “concerns” were. The court decision is still pending.