AfD vows ‘new era’ in debut comments

AfD vows ‘new era’ in debut comments

BERLIN – Agence France-Presse
AfD vows ‘new era’ in debut comments

The far-right AfD party vowed a “new era” as it made its debut yesterday at the first sitting of Germany’s newly-elected parliament, where it immediately made its disruptive force felt.

Setting the tone of more conflictual parliamentary sessions in the next four years, Alternative for Germany (AfD) was first off the mark in filing a motion to challenge a change in parliamentary rules that thwarted one of its lawmakers from making the opening speech in the lower house.

As the motion was immediately defeated by the rest of the lawmakers, the AfD’s parliamentary group chief Bernd Baumann drew a comparison to top Nazi Hermann Goering’s move in 1933 to block communist leader Clara Zetkin from opening the sitting.

The quip drew gasps from the floor and was slammed as “tasteless” by Marco Bueschmann of the liberal FDP.

But that flare-up appeared to be a harbinger of future Bundestag sittings, as the AfD’s leading figures have repeatedly smashed taboos by staking claims to German identity and challenging Germany’s culture of atonement over World War II and the Holocaust.

“Take note: the old Bundestag has been voted out. The people have decided, a new era begins now,” said Baumann.

“From this hour on, the issues will be renegotiated -- not your maneuvers and tricks on parliamentary business but the euro, massive debt, enormous immigration numbers, open borders and brutal criminality in our streets,” he vowed.

The AfD’s arrival in the Bundestag is nothing short of a political earthquake in post-war Germany. Railing against the more than a million asylum seekers who have come to Germany since 2015, the Islamophobic party had capitalized on anger among some Germans over the new arrivals.

Ahead of yesterday’s session, Josef Schuster, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said the AfD’s presence in parliament gave him a “queasy feeling.”

Meanwhile, former German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was elected president of Bundestag.