In an ongoing legal battle, the far-right Alternative for Germany has been fighting against being classified as “suspected” by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), the federal domestic intelligence agency.
Germany's constitutional court has rejected the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party's petition for an injunction to bar the domestic spy agency from stating details about its extremist wing, known as "Der Fluegel" (the Wing).
The AfD had wanted the injunction until the end of its legal battle with the intelligence agency Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) to stop it from conducting any intelligence reviews or spying activities against its leaders and members.
Last year, the BfV designated "Der Fluegel" as an extremist entity that threatens democracy and said it would step up surveillance of the party.
In Thursday's ruling, the Constitutional Court refused to issue a six-month injunction preventing the BfV from publicly stating its finding that Der Fluegel comprises 7,000 members.
Violation of basic rights
The AfD had argued that the government had violated their basic rights by singling out a large section of its estimated 35,000 members as suspected extremists.
The AfD, which was propelled into the national parliament four years ago by voters opposed to Merkel's decision in 2015 to welcome almost one million asylum seekers from the Middle East and Africa, faced setbacks in two regional elections last week.
Analysts put the fall in support by more than 5 points in Baden-Wuerttemberg and 4 points in Rhineland-Palatinate to its opposition to lockdown measures to contain the coronavirus and internal strife sparked by co-leader Joerg Meuthen's efforts to purge the party of members suspected of ties to extremists.
Earlier this month, Merkel's government suffered an embarrassing blow six months before a national election after a court temporarily prohibited the BfV from placing the whole AfD under surveillance for suspected unconstitutional activities.
The ruling was issued two days after the BfV's decision to start eavesdropping on some AfD members and scrutinise its finances, the first such measures against an elected party since the Nazi era ended in 1945, was leaked to the media.
AfD entered Germany’s national parliament as the third-biggest party in the 2017 election, benefiting from a backlash at the time against the influx of more than 1 million asylum-seekers. It is currently the largest of four opposition parties in the national parliament and has lawmakers in all 16 state assemblies.
The party has moved steadily to the right since it was founded in 2013 by critics of the shared euro currency.
Several senior figures have quit in recent years, warning that the party is being taken over by far-right extremists.
Recent polls have shown support for AfD, which won 12.6 percent of the vote in 2017, at between 9 percent and 11 percent.
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