Germany’s commentariat were stunned when a politician from the anti-mass immigration Alternativ für Deutschland (AfD) party unveiled a German flag on live TV last night.
Björn Höcker, who leads the AfD group in the Thuringia state parliament, brandished the flag after declaring a “deep love for my country” on a political talk show hosted by seasoned news presenter Günther Jauch.
He placed the flag on the arm of the chair he was sitting on before joining a discussion on “xenophobia” with politicians from Germany’s two main parties and a journalist.
However, his appearance scandalised the country’s media, who described him as “crazed” and even compared him to Hitler.
Daily newspaper Die Welt said: “Confused AfD Politician Hoists German Flag on Jauch,” while tabloid Bild ran with the headline: “Crazed AfD Politician Provokes With German Flag.” Frankfurter Allgemeine called it a “Black-Red-Gold coup from the right”.
However, the German edition of the Huffington Post went the furthest, comparing Höcker to Hitler by saying: “1,000 Year Germany: The Disgusting Appearance of AfD Man Höcke on Jauch”.
Höcker’s TV appearance was also rounded on by establishment politicians
Bärbel Bas, parliamentary secretary of the SPD parliamentary group, asked: “What is the public broadcaster thinking giving a stage to Höcker?”
Was denkt sich eigentlich ein öffentlich-rechtlicher Sender, diesem Höcke eine Bühne zu bereiten? #Jauch
— Bärbel Bas (@baerbelbas) October 18, 2015
Fellow SDP politician Matthias Groote said “right wing populists” like Höcker should not be allowed on prime time TV
— Matthias Groote (@Groote) October 18, 2015
AfD supporters have bitten back, claiming the media outrage is an example of what they call the “Lügenpresse” (lying press). The expression was voted “non-word of the year” this year after supporters of the PEGIDA demonstrations adopted the term to describe the country’s establishment media – which gave them almost universal negative coverage.
— Ruud van Saaro (@RuudvanSaaro) October 19, 2015
The word has been used in German society since the First World War, but left-wing commentators have focussed on its popularity with the Nazis in the 1920s and 30s. Some even say its use by PEGIDA supporters puts “freedom of the press, and democracy, in danger.”