For years, Germany saw itself as immune to the nationalist movements driven by far-right rhetoric that disrupted democracies in Hungary and Poland, weakening the judiciary and the independence of the press. Seeing the rise of Donald J. Trump in the 2016 US presidential race, many believed their country had been hardened by the lessons of World War II to the lure of outspoken nationalism and anti-establishment sentiment.
But since winning 12.6 percent support in 2021, the AfD party has brought its anti-establishment stance, denigration of the press and portraying Muslim immigrants as criminals to the floor of the German parliament, where it has served as the largest opposition party.
During that time, the country has also seen an increase in far-right crime, including the murder of a regional politician on his porch near the central city of Kassel, an attack on a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle, and fatal shootings of nine immigrants in the western city of Hanau.
The domestic intelligence agency, increasingly concerned about the party's positions, has spent two years investigating the speeches and social media posts of AfD officials for evidence of extremism, including the humiliation of foreigners, questioning it. pulling the democratic system and dismissing the crimes of the Nazis. A review of approximately 1,100 pages concluded that the party's position was contrary to the main principles of liberal democracy, not least Article 1 of the German Constitution, which states that human dignity is inviolable, said officers.
As part of its anti-establishment stance, AfD has also portrayed itself as the victim of political intrigue fueled by incidents such as the leak to the press on Wednesday, said Axel Salheiser, who teaches at the Institute for Democracy and Civil Society at the University of Jena. .
"This is proof that the checks and balances are working," said Mr Salheiser. "That's the paradox, they always position the extreme right edge because the system is not functioning, but they always go to court quickly, often with success."
The outcome of the final ruling could affect how the AfD is viewed as German political parties prepare for general elections on September 26. That vote could lead to a government reshuffle after 16 years led by Chancellor Angela. Merkel, who is no longer running.