German opposition party seeks to oust ex-intel agency chief

Jan 29, 2023, 2:28 PM | Updated: Jan 30, 2023, 4:41 am
FILE-- In this Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018 photo Hans-Georg Maassen, then head of the German Federal ...

FILE-- In this Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018 photo Hans-Georg Maassen, then head of the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, waits for the beginning of a hearing at the home affairs committee of the German federal parliament, Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany. Germany's main opposition party, the Christian Democratic Party (CDU), is trying to get a rid of a former head of the country's domestic intelligence agency following comments in which he complained about what he said was "eliminatory racism against whites." (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, file)

(AP Photo/Michael Sohn, file)

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s main opposition party is trying to get a rid of a member and former head of the country’s domestic intelligence agency after he complained about what he said was a move toward “eliminatory racism against whites.”

The leadership of the center-right Christian Democratic Union unanimously approved a resolution on Monday calling for Hans-Georg Maassen to leave the party. It said that it would seek to start expulsion proceedings if he doesn’t willingly do so by Sunday.

Maassen was removed as the head of the BfV domestic intelligence agency in 2018 after appearing to downplay far-right violence against migrants in the eastern city of Chemnitz. He has since become a vocal if marginal figure on the hard right of the CDU, the party once led by former Chancellor Angela Merkel, and ran unsuccessfully for election to the national parliament in 2021.

Party leaders’ patience with Maassen ran out after a mid-January tweet in which he said that the direction of “the driving forces in the political media sphere” is “eliminatory racism against whites and the burning desire for Germany to kick the bucket.”

“His language and the body of thought that he expresses with it have no place in the CDU,” party leader Friedrich Merz told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper this weekend. “The limit has been reached.”

Monday’s resolution said that Maassen “repeatedly uses language from the milieu of anti-semites and conspiracy ideologists.”

In Germany, expelling party members is a complicated and often lengthy process that frequently fails. Merz acknowledged that it is “not entirely simple” but said the party is examining what possibilities it has.

On Saturday, Maassen was elected as head of the Werte-Union, a group that describes itself as representing conservative members of the CDU but isn’t formally linked to the party. CDU leaders have struggled in recent years to settle on an approach to the Werte-Union, which is politically marginal but has at times gained plenty of attention.

The position had been vacant since Maassen’s predecessor, Max Otte, stepped down after agreeing to run as the far-right Alternative for Germany party’s candidate for German president last year. Otte was later kicked out of the CDU.

Monday’s party resolution called on CDU members to leave the Werte-Union, which it said is increasingly incompatible with the center-right opposition bloc’s values.

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German opposition party seeks to oust ex-intel agency chief