German officials announced on Wednesday that the country’s intelligence agency has opened an investigation into whether the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) political party posed a threat to the country's constitutional order.
The Wall Street Journal reports that representatives for other political parties in Germany welcomed the investigation.
“The far-right extremists have taken the reins of the AfD...[The party] doesn’t belong in the parliaments,” Markus Blume, chairman of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria which is a sister party to that of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's.
AfD is the largest opposition party in Germany's parliament, the Journal notes, and rose in popularity during the 2015 refugee crisis, though its popularity has waned in recent years. It is believed to be the first far-right party to win a federal election in Germany since the Nazi Party was in power.
The party has become an anti-immigration and anti-Muslim party since its founding in 2013. Extremist and controversial remarks made by party members have harmed its popularity. Members of the AfD have also been accused of anti-Semitic rhetoric
AfD lawmakers walked out of the Bavarian Parliament in 2019 when a Holocaust survivor accused the party of minimizing Germany's Nazi history.
Co-chair for the AfD Alice Weidel appeared to paint the investigation as a political maneuver, saying it was designed to harm her party right before the national election.
“We will of course take legal action against the unwarranted proscription of the AfD,” Weidel tweeted after the investigation was announced.
This is not the first time the far-right party has fallen under the scrutiny of Germany's intelligence agency. Germany's Constitutional Protection Office announced in 2019 that it would be scrutinizing elements of the AfD to determine if the party had adopted extremism, which is banned in Germany.
The 2019 investigation was referred to as a "test case," which is the lowest investigative system conducted by the intelligence office.