To get approval for the huge rally at a time when Germans are being urged to limit their contacts to just two households at a time, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) had subscribed to strict rules, including the port obligatory a mask and distance in the huge hall. .
The party’s own security guards must ensure that the rules are followed, alongside officials in the town of Kalkar.
Hundreds of police will also be deployed to ward off any unruly scene, with anti-AfD protesters also announcing their intention to demonstrate outside.
The event can “become a hotspot,” warned Kalkar Mayor Britta Schulz, adding that while it was “irresponsible” to organize such an important event, the political rally could not be banned.
Since new appointments are also to be made to the AfD board at the meeting, the congress is exempt from the rules prohibiting large gatherings in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Over 15,000 COVID deaths
In contrast, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party has twice postponed its congress to elect a new leader due to the risk of contagion from the coronavirus. The Greens held their meeting online last weekend.
Ignoring the possible risks, AfD health policy spokesman Detlev Spangenberg said: “The coronavirus is comparable to influenza in terms of the course of the disease as well as in terms of lethality. So serious measures [taken to fight it] are not proportionate. ”
Germany has recorded more than one million coronavirus infections. A total of 15,586 people have died from the disease, according to official data.
The AfD has been the subject of repeated controversy since it began life as a Eurosceptic entity seven years ago.
In 2015, as public opinion worsened over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to keep Germany’s borders open to hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the war in Iraq and Syria, the AfD is transformed into an anti-immigration party.
He was honored for his Islamophobic stance in the 2017 elections, when voters first sent him to the Bundestag to become the largest opposition group in parliament.
A year before the national elections, the party is once again positioning itself alongside groups that oppose the government – this time on the brakes imposed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Party co-leader Alexander Gauland recently accused the government of using “war propaganda” to defend its “corona dictatorship”.
AfD politicians now regularly march side by side with protesters against the coronavirus borders.
In the latest round of protests in central Berlin, when the violence reached a level which the capital’s police chief said he had been invisible for decades, an AfD politician was accused of using a false medical certificate to claim that he could not wear the required nose and mouth cover. .
In a separate incident recently, Gauland was forced to apologize after two of the party’s lawmakers invited two far-right YouTubers to parliament who continued to harass politicians in the building.
Nonetheless, AfD ratings have held steady at around 10%, up from highs of 15-16% at the height of the refugee crisis.
Toxic infighting between the ultra-conservatives and other party members weakened the AfD. Some voters are also discouraged by the association with neo-Nazi skinheads, as the most radical AfD faction, “Fluegel”, is now under official surveillance by the German intelligence agency.
Instead, approval ratings for Merkel – who is due to retire from politics next year – have reached new highs, with the vast majority of the population expressing satisfaction with her handling of the pandemic.