ZIt only affects two small locations, the district of Sonneberg in Thuringia and the small town of Raguhn-Jeßnitz in Saxony-Anhalt. But in both cases, the AfD managed to break new ground. An AfD district administrator and an AfD mayor are now part of the state power, the executive. Until now, the AfD, unusual enough for a largely extremist party, was “only” represented across the board in parliaments, i.e. part of the legislature.
What follows? Are there any fears that have so far been concerned primarily with the judiciary and the election of judges? Are the communes the first level at which the party can overthrow the liberal order “from within” in its illiberal march through the institutions?
If you take the Thuringian AfD state chairman Björn Höcke at his word, this gradual system change is the most important goal of the party. His state association is therefore also classified as right-wing extremist by the Thuringian Office for the Protection of the Constitution.
Why were the applicants admitted?
The report by the Thuringian Office for the Protection of the Constitution states: “Anti-constitutional positions directed against human dignity, the principles of democracy and the rule of law” are “the dominant and largely undisputed political ideology within the state association”. Every party member, including Robert Stuhlmann, the new District Administrator in Sonneberg, must be assumed to at least have sympathy for it.
But why was he admitted to the district election at all? The Thuringian local election law is clear. Mayor or District Administrator “cannot be elected if you do not guarantee that you will always stand up for the free democratic basic order within the meaning of the Basic Law and the state constitution.”
The regulation is almost identically worded in Saxony-Anhalt, so it also applies to Hannes Loth in Raguhn-Jeßnitz. In both cases, the law refers to eligibility, i.e. to the time before the election. There are legal and regulatory options for this. But they are apparently not used.
The Thuringian Minister of the Interior Georg Maier (SPD) considered it necessary and opportune to carry out a corresponding examination only after the election. It seems opportune because the respective election officer and the election committee can only decide within a short period of time. In Thuringia, however, the committee is not alone: ”The legal supervisory authority must work towards compliance with the election regulations when preparing and conducting the elections,” says the local elections law.
Examination possible before the election
An examination could therefore have taken place before the election. From the time the election law came into being, it can be explained that it still contains a special feature: Every applicant must declare to the election officer that he did not knowingly have been a Stasi employee, that he also agrees that information can be obtained from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution and the be obtained from the Stasi records authority.
Here, too, an in-depth examination based on the past of the SED state is possible within a short period of time. Why not apply to the present as well? The result would be that the election test would ultimately be held in court, so the election itself would be overshadowed from the start.
Because any check that takes material aspects into account is not as simple as checking formal criteria such as age, place of residence and citizenship. There is one more crucial thing: the election officer, election committee and supervisory authority cannot simply use the report for the protection of the constitution or make proximity to Höcke the yardstick. The decisive factor is that it is all about the person, not the party.