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German court backs far-right party over Merkel comments

Germany’s highest court on Wednesday upheld a far-right party’s complaint against former Chancellor Angela Merkel’s comments that electing a state governor with party backing was “inexcusable ” and was not to be allowed to show up.

The Federal Constitutional Court ruled that the comments, made by the then Chancellor in 2020, violated Alternative for Germany’s right to equal opportunities.

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Merkel’s comments during an official visit to South Africa and later published on her and government websites, came a day after the surprise election of Thomas Kemmerich, a member of the business-friendly Free Democrats, in governorship of the eastern state of Thuringia.

Kemmerich narrowly defeated a leftist incumbent after Alternative for Germany representatives in the state legislature voted for him instead of the AfD’s own candidate.

His election was a major embarrassment for Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union, which had also backed Kemmerich.

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Merkel expressed her displeasure at a press conference in South Africa, saying Kemmerich’s election “broken with a fundamental belief for the CDU, and for me too, that no majority should be achieved with the aid from the AfD”.

Later the same day, Kemmerich announced that he planned to resign.

The German Supreme Court ruled that Merkel had “negatively qualified” the AfD in an official capacity and thus “influenced the competition of political parties in a unilateral way”. The court further found that the government used resources only available to it to post the comments on its websites.

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There was some dissent to the decision, which the justices reached by a 5-3 majority. The ruling has no direct implications for Merkel.

The AfD has already taken similar measures. In 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that the then German interior minister violated the party’s rights by publishing an interview on his ministry’s website in which he criticized his behavior as “undermining the State”.

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Post expires at 8:07am on Sunday June 26th, 2022