19/02/2018 HARDtalk


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19/02/2018

Stephen Sackur speaks to Peter Boehringer from Germany's biggest opposition party, the far right AfD, and asks how his party will seek to use its expanded influence.


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LineFromTo

He has now left the Olympic village

and surrendered his accreditation.

0:00:000:00:02

Now on BBC News - HARDTalk.

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To the talk, Stephen Sackur and this

is unique, a city emblematic of

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Germany's prosperity and small seed

servitors. But right now, German

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politics looks anything but steady,

stable and ready to bolster the

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Angela Merkel's new grand coalition

with the Social Democrats is very

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fragile and the biggest opposition

party is the far right alternative

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for Deutschland. My guest today is

the influential AfD MP, Peter

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Boehringer. So how will his party

try to exploit the weakness of

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Angela Merkel?

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Peter Boehringer, welcome to

HARDtalk.

Thank you for having me.

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Let's start with a big picture of

German politics today. In some ways,

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nothing much has changed. Here we

are again facing a grand coalition

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led a Angela Merkel with the

Christian Democrats and the gas PTT

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together. But actually, things quite

different this time? Ashok 's PTT.

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We do not have that coalition. We

will have that pretty soon. Having

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said that, I would agree that it is

no longer the same, we now have a

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coalition of official losers, both

the SPD and the CDU of Angela Merkel

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have lost more than have been

present at the general election last

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autumn and in the meantime they have

lost even more, you could say they

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have lost more than 20% of the votes

in 2013. It is a different situation

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absolutely.

What is your strategy in

the AfD? Will you be looking for

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spoil was looking for a fight or

will you try to be construct a? You

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are now, in essence, the biggest

opposition party.

We are. But

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fighting is not an end in its own

right, of course. We are not

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fighting just for the sake of

fighting, we are fighting for

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bringing Germany back on a legal

track where laws are not violated

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all the time, especially when it

comes to Europe rescue and the

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border controls and immigration. So

we are trying to bring back a little

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bit more direct democracy that is

that people have the say in the

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Bundestag began, which they didn't

have for a long time. -- again.

Your

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bedfellows in the Europe are, I

guess, the National front in France,

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the Austrian Freedom party, yet

builders party in the Netherlands.

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Many people in your country and

across the continent are

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extraordinarily worried about the

power and influence you can now

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wield.

Actually, we are late comers.

In Germany, it is very late that

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Germany has come up with a central

right new party sticking to the

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values and virtues that were normal

in Europe up until the 1990s and

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thousands.

You are not centre-right,

you are far right. I have listed

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your bedfellows, they are all far

right, many people would say

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extremist parties.

I would have to

look into each and every one of

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them, it is completely different

from Marine Le Pen and from the

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Austrian right, that is properly

going too find our.

In what way are

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you completely different?

-- now. In

my personal opinion, I haven't

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changed my political opinion in 20,

30, 40 years at all. I stick to a

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world where the natural state was

the natural state of affairs and

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nobody disputed that. No party, we

have a programme and I was a member

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of the programme condition that the

CDU had up until 2005 and even the

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SPD had in the 1990s. We are not

extremists, we do not change,

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society has changed and especially

the immediate perception. -- media

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perception.

I am not talking about

media perception, I am talking about

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perceptions of people. A former

president of the Council of German

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Jews. She describes your party, the

AfD, as a struck the power which

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endangers democracy.

I don't know

what crystal ball she has but she

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cannot see in the future if she has

the evidence whatsoever...

She is

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judging you on the words of your

senior party members.

You can always

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put individual words out of context,

I do not see it in that way. Our

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programme is not radical at all and

I would say it is blue joie in the

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positive sense of the word.

We need

to question against words that

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senior leaders have said the.

You

would need to put that into context,

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it seems that has not been done.

Your main opposition, let's see if

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the tone is changing. One of your

senior figures...

He is always

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quoted, even though he is not a

senior figure.

He is. Is one of 16

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regional figures.

He is quoted all

of the time. Maybe you know what I

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will ask you. Whether you now

distance yourself from his comments

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when he described the Holocaust

memorial window when as a monument

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of shame and he should have

suggested that Germany should not

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have put it up and no other nation

should have.

He put it like that and

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it is a memorial of shame, one of

the worst routes of German history

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and...

You know what he meant. He

meant it was a shame that it had

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been erected.

It was a shame, I am

not sure what he meant when he said

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that no other country would put up a

memorial for the worst period in its

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history. I wouldn't have put it in

that way but that is what he meant.

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The last one on this style, it is

important to find out whether now

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that you are the biggest opposition

party that your language is going to

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change. As a party I will quote you

Stefan. He is important because now

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as an MP he will be the chair of the

judicial committee. He referred to

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the Green Party as child molesters

and cocaine is. He has been

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suspended from his regional

parliament because of his outrageous

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behaviour. Is it, do you think, why

is to put him into a position such

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as committee chairman of the

judiciary committee?

It was not my

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decision, it was the decision of

others, the elder Council of the

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Bundestag. They put him in that

position. Nobody disagreed, not even

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the left or the Greens themselves,

and a one disagreed, it was only at

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the initial meeting of that

committee that it was disputed for

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whatever reasons. This is the first

time it has happened in 60 years in

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German history, saying for me. For

no reason at all we have seen former

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Nazis in the 1950s had those

parties, we have seen the former

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communist in the 1990s. Nobody was

ever disputed and some people who

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got a Phuc Alls in regional

parliaments and me, who did nothing

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at all basically, were disputed just

because we were AfD members. This is

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the treatment the AfD is receiving

all the time.

Let you put it this

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way, do you accept that the party is

going to have to change and part of

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that change is going to be a

different style, tone and language

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and maybe some members of the party

who were senior figures in the past

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will not be in the future?

Yes, I

will agree there. That is normal

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with every party. We have had the

come professional but ultimately you

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have to understand that the tone and

the brutality is only a reaction

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from outside against the brutality

of the ruling class. All the time,

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it is us who give people who are

really furious about developments in

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Europe and German elite -- Germany,

a voice. Especially if you are not

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in a parliamentary position, which

we had been up to 2014, that you

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have to use a little stronger

language, all opposition parties

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have done that in the past.

Yes, but

you can't excuse some of the things

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said by figures in your party.

I

don't want to excuse everything.

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Let's talk of substance. That stalk

about immigration and integration

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policy in Germany today and let me

quote you the words of a very senior

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figure in your party. Who got into

an argument very recently with the

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German Commissioner for integration,

who has Turkish ethnic roots. She

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had said in a newspaper article that

a specifically German culture beyond

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the language is not identifiable. To

which he said, this is what a German

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Turk says, let's invite her to a

shelled and tell her specifically

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what German culture is and

afterwards she will never come back

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and we will be able to dispose of

her in Anatolia.

Probably need is a

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German would have two explain what

he means because I don't understand.

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In the translation I get the tone

and sense of what he is trying to

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say. Is that except double? To

dispose of her?

I don't even know of

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the word, is it acceptable that the

woman who is aware of that that the

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integration of the government is not

deceive or recognise any German

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culture. How can you integrate into

something which does not exist? That

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is but she started out with and this

is a perfect example that our

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reaction is just, I would say,

adequate.

She is from Hamburg and

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fully German.

Of this issue doesn't

feel like it! -- obviously.

As a

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citizen, she has a right to an

opinion. The integration will judge

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her on her time in office. Your

leader is basically saying that they

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will dispose of her in Anatolia. A

senior figure of ACTU said that this

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language...

They do not need to get

rid of her somehow.

Senior figures

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on the conservative Right said that

the language is disgusting and

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dehumanising. Why would you say that

too?

I would say the policy of the

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coalition government by including

him, is discussed double and has

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been discussed double four decades

now and we are reacting and giving

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those who are disgusted voice.

I

want to talk about that. On the

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specifics of immigration policy,

what we have seen today is that

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there is a significant number of

people coming into Germany on those

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immigration flows from the East. The

numbers were extraordinary, we know

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that many more than 1 million came

in that period after 2015 but in the

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last year the figures suggest

187,000 came in compare to 280,020

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16, far down from the peak in 2015.

So it does appear that the policies

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adopted by Angela Merkel's

government in the last year or two

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have very much reduced the inflow,

would you accept that?

It is a

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relative comparison. Comparing it to

the levels of 2015, which were

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suicidal to any society. We had

abandoned our borders at the time.

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Imagine that. I am asking you that

now in the current situation, where

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the government has changed policy

and the numbers are down, what would

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you do that is different from the

Angela Merkel government today?

If

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you don't interrupt me, I can

finalise my sentence. She invited

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everybody in September two, 2015 are

basically officially saying we are

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abandoning our borders, our police,

the head of the German police wanted

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that order in writing. It was an

executive order, no law was changed.

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But officially abandoning our order

and the word spread in Africa and

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Arabia. We would stop that, stop

that invitation. Now it has not

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stopped, absolutely, the official

number that the government itself

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admits to is 220,000, not counting

families of those refugees. We are

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talking about more than 500,000

people, illegal immigrants still.

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This is the current number. Whatever

numbers you have are not right and

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Angela Merkel has not stopped it.

That is why her polls are falling

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dramatically.

What do you do? You

and Schengen, the three movement on

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people within the EU and do you also

put up walls? I am not clear what

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the AfD would do.

We would not have

to do that. We were stopped at

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invitation officially and seriously

and ring back, even by force, a view

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of those illegal immigrants and even

if you only dealt with a couple

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thousand seriously that word would

also spread into Africa and Arabia

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and that mass influx would stop

immediately.

To what extent is this

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about Muslims in particular? I

notice you have a policy to ban

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foreign funding in mosques in

Germany, to ban the Burke, the

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full-bodied veil. We are not the

only ones. And the Muslims call to

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prayer, put imams through vigorous

state betting. This petty say that

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many Muslim Germans, this deal is

like some sort of war and their

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religion?

You could argue who

started that war as well. But yes, I

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would say, statistically, 85% of

that immigration is Muslims and it

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is mainly Sunni Muslims, you could

say it is also an Islamic problem in

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our point of view. But it is not

only that. Abandoning its borders

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would even be wrong if only

Scandinavians came and headed up

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into Germany. It is always a case,

always a problem. And so, well, what

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you have just elaborated or numbered

is not totally true. We except the

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legal right to private confession of

religious freedom, if you want,

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article format of our Constitution.

We accepted that it is disputes that

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the Muslims have a right to pray in

private and public but the right to

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put Sharia law of a sickly or law

and that is what many Muslims are

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fortunately are doing, especially

Muslims groups.

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You have a background in economics

and business. Are you comfortable

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that these days the AfD seems to

find its strongest support and,

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indeed, it is made in raison d'etre

in anti-immigration policies rather

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than the more technocratic anti-

eurozone stands that actually the

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party began with?

Nobody can really

say why people vote for us. At least

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50% of the voters still vote for the

anti- euro reasons I stand for.

That

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is what I find interesting whether

you are comfortable...

Islam and

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especially the Islam of the strong

religious people, Muslims, is

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antiliberal, it is against women's

rights and liberal rights. It is a

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fight for freedom, actually. It does

not contradict in any way our fight

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for freedom that we have against the

euro rest you and the EU in total.

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You cannot sift this around and say

that this is a minor group of our

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electorate and, well... Whatever you

call them, nationalists or Patriot

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are the majority of our voters. You

now have an important position in

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the German Parliament.

You chaired

the committee on the budget. That

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gives you real power and influence.

How will you use it?

It is the

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moderator 's role, a symbolic role

if you will. Committee where I only

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represent a minority. I will be at

over voted frequently.

You are the

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chair. You can shape the agenda and

have influence. It comes back to my

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original question about how the

actor Max sees itself today in a

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fluid or the cool situation. Will

you push hard on issues such as the

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future eurozone bailouts and the

ambition that Germany and France

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appear to have to go into a much

deeper fiscal integration. Will you

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do your utmost to block that?

I

would love to. But the bulk of money

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that was taken into the hands of the

European Union to permanently rescue

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the euro, every day, that does not

appear on our budget. It is not on

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the official German budget because

it is money coming from the European

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Central bank. The German government

especially but it is not

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automatically part of my budget.

Were talking sums that exceed these

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huge budget, more than 20 billion a

year and it does not even appear.

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This is one of the scandals of this

budget because the money comes from

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Europe. It is European tax money

from European citizens, especially

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German ones.

I understand that the

AfD really does not like away the

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eurozone works and wishes that the

Deutschmark could be rest restored

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to Germany. Would you go further?

Would you want Germany to leave the

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EU? Do you look at Brexit and think

that that is something that we want

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and need in Germany as well?

I am

sympathetic towards the British who

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voted for Brexit. However, the world

did not go under in Britain just

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because you left or are about to

leave. So those prophecies that the

0:19:420:19:52

world would end if Britain left did

not come true. Having said that,...

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Yes. Do you think the German public

has there been -- has any interest

0:19:560:20:04

in leaving the EU?

They would if

they knew how much money had been

0:20:040:20:09

spent on the euro rescue. But

whether AfD existed or not, the euro

0:20:090:20:14

would have a natural end of life. It

is an unnatural currency and one

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that has to be rescued every day is

no currency. It is a contradiction

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in terms. It is a crash that will

happen, it will happen in any case

0:20:250:20:30

and if we wait too along with that

decision then the Euro can really

0:20:300:20:35

become a question of war and peace.

I saw some opinion polls that showed

0:20:350:20:42

the EU and the AfD, having won just

short of 13% in the last election,

0:20:420:20:48

now stand at 15% in the latest

national polls.

Do you see yourself

0:20:480:20:52

in the long-term becoming sup,

somehow becoming partners of a post-

0:20:520:20:58

Merkel Conservative Party in Germany

or do you see yourselves replacing

0:20:580:21:04

that coalition?

That is a question

that is being heavily discussed in

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our party. Today, no-one wants to be

in a coalition with us and we do not

0:21:120:21:17

want to be in a coalition because

they follow that supra-

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nationalistic agenda which we do not

accept. We follow a planned central

0:21:210:21:28

economic policy, which we do not

accept. Today we cannot do a

0:21:280:21:35

coalition. Things do change and I

think they will change quickly. AfD

0:21:350:21:41

works today from the opposition

lines into the government lines and

0:21:410:21:46

if the leading class of those

parties is being replaced then it

0:21:460:21:49

will happen quickly. Then maybe we

have a different situation. These

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parties will have to become, will

have to accept the very idea of the

0:21:550:22:01

nationstate again, which they have

abandoned. Good election results are

0:22:010:22:09

only the result of us sticking to

that idea.

Ultimately, and we should

0:22:090:22:14

not forget this, your party scored

12.6% in the last election. I am

0:22:140:22:21

telling you that your poll standing

now may be as high as 15% but that

0:22:210:22:25

is a very long way from becoming the

biggest party in Germany. If you are

0:22:250:22:30

to do that all really gather

political momentum, it seems to me

0:22:300:22:34

that you may have to consider

changing some of your core messages

0:22:340:22:37

and your style and your tone,

particularly on issues concerning

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immigration, the German was on

community and reaching out in a way

0:22:420:22:46

that you have refused and failed to

do thus far to show that you are not

0:22:460:22:51

a racist party. How will you do

that?

I do not recognise your

0:22:510:22:56

analysis did it we are not racist.

That is ridiculous and a false

0:22:560:23:00

allegation. We are not racist. Islam

is not a race. So being critics of

0:23:000:23:07

Islam does not make you a racist.

That is ridiculous. We have nothing

0:23:070:23:13

against foreigners, not at all but

we have something against illegal

0:23:130:23:16

people in our country who have no

reason whatsoever. This is true in a

0:23:160:23:24

strict legal sense for 98% of those

who've come since 2015. We need to

0:23:240:23:29

change a little bit and we need to

change the tone. We need to be more

0:23:290:23:33

professional but compared to 2013

when we were, in your words, a not

0:23:330:23:38

so radical party, we have even

gained, while the major parties have

0:23:380:23:46

lost 20% in just four years. If you

repeat that in another four years

0:23:460:23:51

than we have a majority.

We will see

what happens then. You really think

0:23:510:23:57

your party are the future of

Germany?

I am not predicting that

0:23:570:24:01

but that is what we are looking for.

Thank you very much for being an

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HARDtalk.

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HARDtalk is in Munich, a city which is emblematic of Germany's prosperity, efficiency and conservatism. But German politics is no longer steady, safe and predictable. Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition deal with the Social Democrats looks fragile, with Germany's biggest opposition party the far right Alternative für Deutschland. Stephen Sackur speaks to influential AfD MP Peter Boehringer and asks how his party will seek to use its expanded influence.