According to a ruling by the North Rhine-Westphalia Higher Administrative Court, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution rightly classified the AfD as a suspected right-wing extremist case.

The court in Münster confirmed a ruling from the lower court on Monday. This means that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution can continue to use intelligence resources to monitor the party. The verdict is not yet legally binding. The OVG did not allow an appeal. However, the AfD can submit an application for approval to the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig (case numbers: 5 A 1216/22, 5 A 1217/22 and 5 A 1218/22).

The powers of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution are “by no means limitless,” but a well-defensed democracy should not be a “toothless tiger,” emphasized Gerald Buck, presiding judge of the 5th Senate, in the justification for the decision.

Especially when monitoring a particularly protected political party, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution must be able to present “sufficiently conclusive circumstances” that indicate that a group may be pursuing efforts against the free basic order. The Senate saw this as the case when the AfD was classified as a suspected right-wing extremist case.

The Senate is convinced that there is a well-founded suspicion that “it corresponds to the political objectives of at least a significant part of the AfD to only grant German citizens with a migration background a legally devalued status,” it said in the justification. According to the Basic Law, this is “inadmissible discrimination”.

After the ruling, the AfD announced that it would take the legal dispute to the next higher court. “We will of course call the next authority,” said AfD federal executive board member Roman Reusch on Monday, according to a statement from the party. The court in Münster did not allow an appeal in its judgment. However, the AfD can lodge a complaint with the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig.

AfD vice-president Peter Boehringer criticized the procedure for “insufficient clarification of the facts. Not following up on hundreds of applications for evidence borders on refusing to work, as was the case in the previous instance, which was the main reason for the appeal.”

In the appeal process, the AfD objected to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution listing the entire party, the now disbanded AfD “wing” and the youth organization Junge Alternative as suspected extremist cases. The wing is also concerned with the classification as a confirmed extremist effort. In the first instance, the Cologne Administrative Court ruled in favor of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution: the judges saw sufficient evidence of anti-constitutional efforts within the AfD.

According to the judgment announced on Monday, the OVG shares this view. The lawsuits were directed against the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Because the Federal Office is based in Cologne, the courts in North Rhine-Westphalia are responsible.

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