The populist alternative to Germany is facing possible legal action after MPs from the party smuggled right-wing activists into parliament to protest a new law allowing authorities to impose anti-coronavirus blockades.
The intervention earlier this week caused widespread outrage across the German political spectrum thereafter video on social media showed that MPs had been mistreated and insulted by far-right activists in the corridors of the Bundestag.
Alexander Gauland, head of the AfD parliamentary group, was forced to apologize on Friday after lawmakers planned an emergency debate on the incident.
He acknowledged that activists had entered parliament as guests of AfD lawmakers and had continued to “harass and ostracize” lawmakers from ruling parties who supported the blockade legislation. He described their behavior as “uncivilized” and “inappropriate”.
“The hot atmosphere outside was carried inside – we should have prevented it and supervised the visitors,” he said. “The situation is out of control.”
Despite his pardon, pressure is expected to increase on the AfD after Wolfgang Schäuble, chairman of the Bundestag, said he had urged authorities to “examine all legal avenues to take action against perpetrators and those who secured their access to the. Bundestag ”.
The object of the protesters’ anger was a series of changes to Germany’s anti-pandemic law that set out what blocking measures authorities could impose, such as closing restaurants and schools, banning religious services and forcing people to wear masks.
Such measures have so far been imposed by government decree and are seen as vulnerable to court challenges. Their review of the law puts them on a more secure legal footing.
Thousands of protesters gathered in central Berlin on Wednesday to express their anger over the changes, which they claimed violated their civil rights and undermined the German constitution. Police used water cannon against demonstrators after they refused to donate masks and observe the rules of social distancing.
The AfD backed the protesters, with many of their deputies comparing the changes to the 1933 Enforcement Act that paved the way for Adolf Hitler’s Nazi dictatorship.
During the emergency debate in the Bundestag on Friday, AfD MP Karsten Hilse, who was detained by police during this week’s demonstration, said the changes would lead to “the greatest restrictions on our fundamental rights since 1949”, He added that “there has never been such widespread resistance to a law, across the political spectrum, in German history.”
But MPs from all other parties returned to the AfD, using the debate over Wednesday’s incident to condemn the party and its methods.
“Since 2017.. . the atmosphere in this house has changed radically, and this is because AfD was allowed to enter parliament [in that year]Said Barbara Hendricks of the Social Democrats.
“You are trying to destroy parliamentary democracy from within,” said Patrick Schnieder of Angela Merkel’s CDU / CSU bloc.
“Your clear goal is to draw the image of this house through the mud,” said Michael Grosse-Brömer, CDU / CSU’s main whip. Petra Pau, an MP from the far-left party Die Linke, described the AfD’s comparison of the anti-pandemic changes in the Enabling Act as “endless anger” that “trivializes fascism and mocks its victims”.
Opposition Greens also expressed outrage over the infiltration of activists into parliament. “Anyone who tries to intimidate MPs is attacking our democracy,” said Britta Hasselmann, the Greens’ chief executive. “And that breaks a taboo in this house.”
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