For the first time in its postwar history, Germany has placed its main opposition party under surveillance, one of the most dramatic steps yet by a Western democracy to protect itself from the onslaught of far-right forces that have upset politics from Europe to the United States.
The decision by the domestic intelligence agency will now allow it to tap phones and other communications and monitor the movements of members of the far-right Alternative for Germany party, which not only sits in the Federal Parliament but has become entrenched at all levels of politics in nearly every part of the nation.
It is among the most sweeping efforts yet to deal with the rise of far-right and neo-Nazi political movements within Western democracies, which are attempting more vigorously to constrain, ostracize or even legally prosecute those elements to prevent them from chipping away at the foundations of democratic institutions.
News of the move came on the same day that France banned Generation Identity, a militant youth movement considered dangerous for its slick rebranding of neo-Nazi concepts, and as lawmakers in the European Parliament in Brussels forced the party of Hungary’s semi-authoritarian leader Viktor Orban out of the mainstream conservative group.
It also follows the impeachment hearing in Washington of former President Donald J. Trump over accusations that he incited the violent mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, as well as rising concerns among Democrats and even U.S. law enforcement agencies about links between some Republican Party members and extremist or conspiracy groups like QAnon. [Continue reading…]