Reactions to Faeser’s action plan: praise with drawbacks

Reactions to Faeser’s action plan: praise with drawbacks

Civil society initiatives welcome Faeser’s measures against right-wing extremism. But some fear that leftists could also be at risk.

Berlin, February 3, 2024: Demonstration against right-wing extremism Photo: Virginia Garfunkel/imago

BERLIN taz | A lot is right, but little is new – this is how the reactions from anti-fascist and civil society practice to the measures against right-wing extremism presented by Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) on Tuesday can be roughly summarized. Timo Reinfrank, managing director of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, welcomed the plans, but criticized the fact that much of it was already part of the 10-point plan for 2022. Things like stopping right-wing financial flows and disarming the right-wing extremist scene could have been implemented long ago.

From his point of view, the most pressing question remained unanswered: “How can our democracy be secured against the party-like right-wing extremism of the AfD in view of the super election year 2024?” The measures presented by Faeser take time that we don’t have, according to Reinfrank: “Local politicians are already becoming active today “Insiders are intimidated, activists are threatened and right-wing extremists are creating a climate of hate and agitation across Germany.” These people now need concrete solutions and support – with which Reinfrank was referring, among other things, to the Democracy Promotion Act, which is intended to secure civil society structures and has not yet been passed in the Bundestag.

There is also a need for a broad-based educational offensive for all age groups and social areas as well as more forms of participation for democracy. The NGO also called for a paradigm shift in political culture: “As long as the democratic parties, for example, negotiate migration exclusively in a way that is filled with resentment and is focused on defense, that plays into the hands of an AfD, which drives the parties ahead of them and sets the issues.”

Heiko Klare, Federal Association of Mobile Consulting

“We’ve heard a lot of this before”

For Heiko Klare from the Federal Association of Mobile Advice, which represents over 50 advisory teams working across the country against right-wing extremism, the package of measures is not really new, but rather a “wake-up call” for the government coalition and parliament: “We have heard a lot of this before – the federal government would now have to actually implement what it has set out to do.”

Not possible without pressure from the street

Klare criticized the stalling of the Democracy Promotion Act in the Bundestag and thus a lack of joint action in the traffic light coalition. While Faeser is holding a press conference on measures against right-wing extremism and the Green Family Minister Lisa Paus is presenting a study on hate on the Internet on the same day, FDP MP Linda Teuteberg wants to reopen the package to promote democracy and is using culture war rhetoric to falsely suggest that the money will be used to self-service shops Red-green frontline organizations should be created: “There are numerous calls for proposals every year with clear funding criteria in accordance with the Basic Law and democracy, transparent evaluations, proof of use, interim reports and sponsor discussions.” Blocking funds for democracy promotion now is dangerous in view of the extreme right-wing threat , warned Klare. We have seen in Poland and Hungary how quickly democracies can be dismantled – here too, an acid test is imminent with the state elections in Thuringia.

Klare, however, welcomed the fact that Interior Minister Faeser (SPD) and Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution Thomas Haldenwang clearly named the New Right and the AfD as right-wing extremist threats. For a long time there was a lack of openness to findings from science and civil society, which had been describing this danger for years. Klare also viewed the increased pressure as a result of the ongoing, widespread protests against right-wing extremism in recent weeks: “We wouldn’t be at this point if it weren’t for the pressure.”

Danger for leftists too?

Cornelia Kerth, the chairwoman of the Association of Those Persecuted by the Nazi Regime – Association of Antifascists (VVN-BdA), told the taz that the formulated goals “sounded nice,” but feared that expanded powers, for example of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, would ultimately also be against them left-wing organizations: In the future, the drying up of financial sources for right-wing extremist networks should no longer be limited to criteria such as “incitement to hatred and violence-oriented efforts”, but rather the Constitutional Protection Act should be changed so that the prosecution of extremist organizations is based on vague categories such as “potential danger”, “Action potential” and “social influence” come into play.

Kerth fears that in the end, left-wing clubs will also come under fire because of the under-complex theory of extremism as the basis for the actions of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Their concern does not come as a surprise: The organization VVN-BdA, founded by those persecuted by the Nazis, was itself threatened in its non-profit status for years by being classified as left-wing extremist by the Bavarian Office for the Protection of the Constitution, and members were also affected by professional bans in the 1970s.

Kerth instead called on the federal government to take its own core demand of “dismantling right-wing extremist networks” seriously: “The AfD sits like a spider in the web at the center of these networks,” said Kerth. It could employ thousands of extreme right-wing members through mandates and employees and possibly soon through a party-affiliated foundation and include former NPD members, Identitarians and fraternity members in a pool of full-time neo-Nazis. Kerth therefore said: “The most effective measure against right-wing extremist networks would be to ban the AfD, because that deprives the right-wing swamp of the means to spread further in this society.”


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