Far-right AfD vows ‘new era’ at German parliament debut

Berlin: The far-right AfD party vowed a “new era” as it made its debut on Tuesday at the first sitting of Germany’s newly-elected parliament, where it immediately sparked an outcry by comparing itself to a victim of notorious Nazi Hermann Goering.
Setting the tone for more fractious parliamentary sessions in the next four years, the 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 wrongly drew a comparison to a move he claimed Goering made in 1933 to block communist MP Clara Zetkin from opening the sitting.
German news agency DPA swiftly corrected Baumann’s account, noting that Goering’s action had actually blocked a member of his own party rather than Zetkin from opening parliament that year.
Nevertheless, the AfD’s quip drew gasps from the floor and was slammed as “tasteless” by Marco Buschmann of the liberal FDP party.
Greens lawmaker Juergen Trittin also condemned the AfD for having “the audacity to put themselves in the same line as the victims of Nazis”.
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 the AfD’s Baumann. “From this hour on, the issues will be renegotiated — not your manoeuvres 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.