A row has broken out in Germany’s governing Christian Democrat (CDU) party, after a close ally of Angela Merkel launched an astonishing attack on the party’s hard-Right sympathies in the wake of the murder of an MP.
Peter Tauber, the CDU secretary general until 2017, wrote in Die Welt newspaper that the Right-wing of his party had facilitated the rise of the far-Right by being “unwilling to admit that the political Right cannot be integrated or tied to us”.
Unafraid to name names, he accused one long-time CDU politician, who left the party in 2017, of being “partly responsible” for the murder of Walter Lübcke after she “self-radicalised on Twitter”.
Mr Lübkce, a vocal advocate of Berlin’s refugee policies, was found dead in his garden on June 2. Federal prosecutors announced on Monday that they believe that the murder had a far-Right motive.
“The enemy is standing there – and there is no doubt – he is standing to our Right,” Mr Tauber wrote, launching a grenade into a sensitive debate in the CDU on how to cope with the rise of the populist hard-Right Alternative for Germany (AfD).
Reacting to the article, a spokesman for the Werte Union – a conservative lobby group within the CDU – called Mr Tauber “arrogant” and a “member of the elite who look down upon the grassroots ‘mob’”.
Many conservatives feel the CDU’s leadership under Mrs Merkel is too far removed from grassroots concerns about immigration and this has given the nationalist AfD room to flourish.
However, Mr Tauber, a close confidant of the chancellor before he stood down due to a ill health two years ago, said that the murder showed it was time to draw a clear line in the sand.
Most controversially, he argued for using an obscure article in the German constitution to curtail the basic rights of extremists.
Article 18, which was intended to defend the fledgling democracy against remnants of Nazism in the Forties, has not been used in 70 years.
But Mr Tauber said it was “ideally suited” to take the right to free speech and freedom of assembly away from Right-wing extremists.