Germany's Bundestag
Germany's BundestagiStock

Critics of the manner in which political party-affiliated foundations are given state funding in Germany are calling for regulatory change after a foundation affiliated with the far-right AfD party was granted state support this week.

The Desiderius Erasmus Foundation (DES), which is linked to the far-right populist AfD party, had taken its case for public funding all the way to the Federal Constitutional Court. The high court ruled in its favor, DW reported.

The AfD party was denounced by Germany's antisemitism monitor in February for legislation banning kosher slaughter in Germany.

"The motion by the AfD parliamentary group to ban religious slaughter in Germany is a fundamental attack on Jewish life in Germany,” Felix Klein said.

The party's electoral success has also been a source of worry for the President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, who in October 2022 issued a stark warning about the rise of the far-right after its winning campaign in Lower Saxony state elections.

In Germany, political foundations connected to political parties, usually named after famous political figures, are granted money from the federal budget, which earmarks around half a billion euros for funding each year.

To date, the DES, which is linked to AfD and named after a Dutch philosopher from the Renaissance, had not qualified for funding. However, it took its case to the Constitutional Court that ruled not including DES when allocating money to foundations, who use the grants for political and educational programs, was a strike against AfD’s legal right to share in the political process as a registered party's foundation.

The court added that a regulation would be needed to prevent the foundation from receiving government grants.

The court’s ruling said: “A law passed by parliament is required in order to justify this interference: such a law is lacking here.”

With Germany's domestic intelligence service, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), accusing members of AfD of being right-wing extremists, there is worry among activists campaigning against the far-right that the DES could use the money to become a “central building block for attempts by the far-right to achieve dominance in the pre-political space in Germany,” the report said.

"It is to be feared that with state funding in the tens of millions, DES could create permanent structures to place and anchor anti-human positions of the New Right more strongly in society,” a 2021 study by the metal trade union’s Otto Brenner Foundation found.

The other parties in the Bundestag attempted to circumvent the problem with a memorandum on financial grants to political foundations last year. The measure mandated that grants would only go to foundations "who, according to their charters and overall activities, always guarantee that they are committed to the free and democratic basic order in the sense of the Basic Law and advocate for its observance."

But with the court’s ruling, German parliamentarians will now be forced to enact a new law to prevent the far-right DES from benefiting from government money or let it partake in the grants process available to political foundations.