Berlin (JTA) – A lawmaker from Germany’s right-populist, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party is temporarily waiving his rights to represent his party in the Baden-Württemberg state parliament, over allegations of anti-Semitism.
Wolfgang Gedeon will remain a voting member of parliament, with no party affiliation, for now.
With his move, Gedeon has temporarily avoided being thrown out of the party entirely. Alternative for Germany party leadership – worried about their party’s national reputation – had met with Gedeon Tuesday to discuss the anti-Semitism charges, after learning that he had referred to the Holocaust as a “civil religion of the West,” called the Holocaust memorial in Berlin “a memorial to certain crimes,” and referred to Holocaust deniers as “dissidents” in writings over recent years.
Gedeon, a medical doctor by profession and member of the state parliament since last March, also has admired the notorious 19th century anti-Semitic hoax, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” calling it a “brilliant concept of domination,” according to Die Welt newspaper.
The legislator announced his decision to muzzle himself through the current legislative period after Tuesday’s lengthy meeting with party leaders, who decided to postpone their expulsion decision until after Gedeon produces an expert opinion on the anti-Semitism allegation.
The party reportedly will reconsider the matter in September.
Minimizing or denying the Holocaust is illegal in Germany.
A spokesperson for the state parliament, Bettina Schreitmueller, told JTA that Gedeon remains in the legislature and can attend all meetings as well as present queries in writing. He cannot speak in a plenary session unless his faction asks him to do so, which is unlikely, according to Schreitmueller.
Speaking to German media Tuesday, Baden-Württemberg Governor Winfried Kretschmann, of the Green Party, called Gedeon an “obvious anti-Semite” and said he expected the lawmaker would be ostracized.
Gedeon told reporters that he had acted in order to avoid splitting the party. The head of his faction, Jörg Meuthen, had warned he would step down if Gedeon were not expelled. Meuthen added that he could not imagine any expert opinion would change his mind.