Position on property and freedom: Analysis of the German party programs. Part VI. AfD

_ Prof. Dr. Gerd Habermann, executive director, Friedrich A. von Hayek Society, honorary professor, University of Potsdam. 24 September 2021.*

Germany. But normal. (203 pages)

Overall impression

It is difficult to approach this so stigmatized party impartially. If you look at their election program (I not talking about verbal derailments of some of their representatives), there are hardly any elements of “right-wing extremism”, let alone Nazism, to be discovered. It is programmatically a bourgeois, liberal-conservative, also national-conservative party, comparable to the SVP in Switzerland. Certainly, with a patriotic accent that is conspicuous in Germany today – but no excessive nationalism (which is always associated with a contempt or disdain for other nations). It is the only party that opposes egalitarian extremism and centralism, also in its economic, monetary, financial and especially socio-political views and keeps away from exaggerations in the climate debate. Actually, the party program is decidedly “climate sceptical”, putting it in a common jargon. It is also the only party that dares to criticize the excesses of certain anti-corona measures. It also offers some constitutional suggestions. Like the FDP, it demands the abolition of the so-called Network Enforcement Act, including the General Data Protection Regulation. Bene!

Economy: “Social market economy”

The AfD is committed to the “social market economy” in the sense of Ludwig Erhard instead of a “socialist industrial policy”. In terms of tax policy, it is property-friendly when, like the FDP, it calls for the abolition and rejection of property taxes (property, inheritance taxes) (“There is no reason to turn a bereavement into a tax case”). The party takes up a far-reaching proposal for the tax reform with the Kirchhoff model, with the concentration on value added and income tax and the elimination of all trivial taxes at all levels, including the second home tax, the beer tax or the hunting tax. Also, it wants to promote home ownership: the real estate transfer tax is thus to be abolished. In addition, it calls for a change in the tariff structure and the abolition of the income tax “cold progression”. Here, too, it approaches the FDP and goes beyond it. It demands – a practically inconsequential long-runner of almost all party programs – a de-bureaucratisation. It is the only party to advocate the abolition of compulsory contributions to public broadcasting0. There is of course not much talk of “privatization” – as with the FDP – so the water supply should remain in public hands. In terms of transport policy, there is no polemics against the internal combustion engine and, in general, it is free from extremism in terms of transport policy. The German automotive industry should remain the lead industry. There is talk of making labour law more flexible (without specifying it). Their so-called “Blue Deal” economic program includes a consistent market economy policy and innovation promotion. Like the FDP, it is against the “ideologically motivated solo effort of the supply chain law”.

Climate policy: a unique selling point

Climate change should be countered positively, not as a world ending disaster. The AfD is calling for the Paris climate agreement to be terminated. It rejects the national CO2 tax. “No to the Green Deal”, cancellation of the EEG, no rejection of nuclear power, coal and gas, no promotion of electromobility and of the hydrogen economy. It also advocates  for Nord Stream 2 and a restriction on the promotion of renewable energy. One cannot be further away from a “Great Reset”.

For currency competition

The AfD is clearly in favour of currency competition, and there is even talk of a return to the gold standard. It sharply criticizes the ECB’s monetary policy and its negative interest rate policy (“expropriation of savers, tenants and pensioners”). The euro should only remain as a parallel currency, i.e., the party demands a return to the national currency. The European Monetary Union has failed for them, and its support measures are to be discarded. The multiple breaches of the European treaties in connection with the euro rescue policy are condemned. The program points out the need to preserve cash (otherwise there is a risk of: “transparent citizens” and of “a convenient fiscal expropriation possibility”). The party also calls for a revision of the “Target2” – debt practice – as the only party.

A national model for Europe

A special feature of this party is its Europe model. It is consequently in favour of a confederative union of states with a European internal market, and rejects a European superstate. This includes the rejection of EU competence in taxation policy. In the extreme case of an inability to reform the EU structures, it does not rule out leaving the EU (“Dexit”) and negotiating a new constitution according to subsidiary principles.

Social policy without inspiration

There is no new regulatory approach here. The AfD continues the Bismarck model. In their environment there is talk of “social patriotism”. It rejects rent regulations, takes up the socio-politically sensible approach of subject instead of object promotion (example: housing allowance instead of state housing). We read generally of a more flexible labour law.

In terms of family policy, the AfD is in favour of introducing a “family splitting” and “care allowance” as a wage replacement benefit for three years, also for a marriage start loan (for initial acquisitions) and other support measures and the upgrading of traditional families and marriage in general. State family paternalism is an issue. The party calls for a “welcoming culture” for children. Overall: an even stronger state funding for the family than before. Instead of an equal opportunities officer at the workplace, there should be a “family officer”. Undoubtedly a position that a liberal need not find good, who would probably be in favour for “more net” and a strategic withdrawal from state family policy in general.

The pension concept is also structurally conservative. Basically, the Bismarck model remains with a gratifying flexibilization of the retirement age. The party wants less people to have the official clerk status. Instead of subsidizing childlessness through statutory pension insurance, it wants tax privileges for children. For the health sector, too, only very detailed, there are mostly conservative proposals, even the proposal to limit the private hospital sector. It is for the better payment of the doctors (against head lump sums and budgeting).

Anti-egalitarian social politics

Here it is the only party to consistently reject radical egalitarianism, is family-friendly in the traditional sense, rejects the discriminatory anti-discrimination approach (in private law), ditto gender policy and the inflated LGBTQI problem, as well as quota policy (“equal rights not equality”).

Education: structure-critical

This section, too, is predominantly structurally conservative, but also anti-egalitarian. One finds a legitimate criticism of the over-academicisation and the devaluation of practical training courses. It is against the inclusion policy for schools, against competence orientation instead of real educational content, namely also for the communication of literature, music and history (as an important part of cultural identity). It is the only party to rail against the Bologna system of universities and to promote a return to diplomas and masters. No money for “gender studies” and gender quotas! One would like a German dominant culture instead of “multiculturalism” that leads to parallel societies.

Constitutional policy – interesting approaches

Apart from the LEFT, the AfD is now the only party that is fighting for more say for the people in the sense of Swiss direct democracy after the GREENS have given up their old demand for grassroots democracy, but is interestingly against a plebiscitary approach (“no right of initiative of the government and parliaments for referendums from above”). It takes a stand against party power and for the abolition of political bureaucracy and the patronage of offices, is sceptical against state foundation/NGO funding, stands up against the oversized parliaments and for a limitation of mandate and term of office. Like Hans-Herbert von Arnim, it is fighting for the restoration of a real separation of powers.

Migration policy

The AfD – for which it is particularly known – advocates a change in asylum practice and against a common European asylum system, including a termination of the UN migration pact. It does not hold back its criticism of Islam. The AfD is in favour of “qualified Australian-style immigration.”

*Translated from the original German publication on Achgut.com.

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