18:14 GMT +320 January 2020
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    Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the BfV, is set to start monitoring the country’s main opposition party, the right-wing Alternative for Germany, for suspected extremism. According to Deutsche Welle, the BfV is to place AfD’s youth organisation JA and a group called Flugel, led by Björn Höcke, under surveillance.

    Sputnik discussed this with Martin Sichert, a German member of parliament, who is also chairman of the AfD party in Bavaria.

    Sputnik: Now what is AfD's response to reports that it will be monitored by the domestic intelligence agency?

    Martin Sichert: I would say it’s a kick in the teeth, on one side, of the 6 million voters that have elected us as the largest parliamentary opposition in Germany and it contradicts the German legacy in foreign affairs for many years, where we have always put hands on other countries when the government has fought against the opposition, and now in Germany we have the largest parliamentary opposition being monitored by the intelligence agency.

    READ MORE: German Authorities Put AfD Under Scrutiny

    Sputnik: How would your party respond?

    Martin Sichert: We are quite relaxed to all that, we respond very openly and we say: “You can monitor us, we have nothing to hide.” We are the party that is fighting extremism on all fronts very clearly, and we tell all the people in the country that this is just a way of the established parties to fight the opposition, and that it’s not our Constitution that has to be protected from us, but the government that is protected by the domestic intelligence agency.

    Sputnik: Some analysts have noted that the reports come as the Alternative for Deutschland party is expected to do well in the upcoming European elections in May. How likely is that?

    Martin Sichert: Its’s quite likely that these two things have to do with each other because they’ve tried a lot of things to keep the people away from voting for the Alternative for Deutschland, but they were not successful in whatever they tried, and now it’s the upcoming elections for Europe in May, and far more, it’s the election in two federal states, in Saxony and Brandenburg, where the Alternative for Deutschland is on its way to become the strongest party in the parliamentary elections in autumn, and they’re trying everything to prevent that.

    Sputnik: What impact can this development have on the party's chances in the elections?

    Martin Sichert: It can have the impact that some people might say: “We don’t know if we should vote for a party that is monitored.” But I don’t really believe in that. This is the hope that the government has, and established parties have, I believe the impact will be more likely that more people will vote for us, because the people say: “That’s not the way how we imagined a democracy to work, that if there is an opposition, that some parties and the government does not like, to be observed by domestic intelligence agency, to drive big media campaigns against the party.”

    I think in the elections everyone can [pick] the party that he wants, and I believe that many people vote for us, but it might get harder for us to get members because it’s harder for the people in the party to go open to the public and say that I’m a part of this party that is monitored by the domestic intelligence agency.

    Sputnik: Who exactly is Björn Höcke and what do you make of the allegations made against him?

    Martin Sichert: Björn Höcke is the leader of the party in Thuringia (state) and he’s quite successful there in his [state] and he has been the focus of the German media since he made huge demonstrations in Thuringia, it was up to 10,000 people going out on the streets and demonstrating for the AfD and against the politics of Angela Merkel. Ever since then, the media is very focused on him and is trying to give him the mark of the bad guy in German politics and that’s what’s happening at the moment. But in the AfD we will not let anyone from the outside, if it’s the intelligence agency or if it’s the government, or whoever, decide who will have which role in the party. That’s what we in the party will decide and by all the pressure that comes from the outside against the single member with the hope to get division in the party by focusing on one person and saying: “This one is the bad guy and if you get rid of this bad guy everything is good.” It’s not a game that we play, because we know when Björn Höcke falls, they will focus on the next one and try to play the same game with him.

    READ MORE: Czech Politician on Why EU is Equivalent to African Union in Eyes of US

    Sputnik: There’s been a rise in hate crimes in Europe and in Germany; do you think this trend will continue?

    Martin Sichert: I think it will. We've seen the rise in hate crimes against one of the AfD members of the German parliament last week who has been attacked on the street, and we are seeing that the political climate is getting rougher from month to month. We had a bomb attack against an office of the AfD and we see that the government is not working on keeping the people together and saying: “Ok, we are all in one democracy, everyone may have a different opinion.” Instead they say that if you have this opinion, if you want to have the borders closed, if you want direct democracy like in Switzerland, and all the other things that AfD wants then we will fight against you, and that’s something that is not bringing peace to the society.

    The views and opinions expressed by the contributors do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    surveillance, Alternative for Germany (AfD), Germany
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