Former German spy chief founds new right-wing party By Reuters

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¬©Reuters. Hans-Georg Maassen, president of the German right-wing conservative group Werteunion (Union of Values), attends a press conference, after attending a meeting to found a “conservative-liberal” party, in Remagen, Germany, February 17, 2024 REUTERS/Jana Rodenbusch

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By Thomas Escritt and Sarah Marsh

BERLIN (Reuters) – A former German spy chief fired after being accused of looking away from the threat posed by the far right founded a new right-wing party on Saturday, holding an inaugural party congress on a boat near the old German port. capital Bonn.

The party is the third to be founded in Germany this year, further fragmenting the political landscape and complicating election forecasts ahead of European parliamentary polls and votes in half the country’s municipalities and three states.

The Werteunion, or Union of Values, is led by Hans-Georg Maassen, who was fired as head of the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) in 2018.

Maassen was forced to resign after initially questioning the authenticity of a video showing far-right extremists chasing migrants in the eastern city of Chemnitz, claiming it could have been faked.

He later toned down the tone, saying the interpretation of the video was questionable, not its authenticity, but that wasn’t enough to quell the outcry that led to his departure.

The lawyer has since become known for his increasingly radical comments on immigration, becoming a hero to far-right activists, including some in the circles surrounding Heinrich XIII Prince Reuss, the aristocrat who led a foiled coup in 2022.

A former member of the opposition Christian Democrats, Maassen is now himself monitored by the security agency he heads, he said last month. The BfV said privacy law means it cannot comment on individual cases.

“12:32. Done!” Maassen said on the social media platform X, posting a photo of himself and his colleagues in front of a German flag on the boat.

With Germany’s main parties well behind in the polls compared to their 1980s heyday, when the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats regularly won nearly 50 percent, many new parties have sought to capitalize on frustration with the establishment.

Earlier this year, left-wing politician Sahra Wagenknecht founded a new left-wing populist party.

The Werteunion, once a pressure group aligned with the Christian Democrats, will now compete for space with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which is leading the polls in some eastern states.

While all other parties have ruled out collaboration with the AfD, Maassen recently said he would be ready to support their legislative proposals if they make sense, although he has ruled out a coalition with the party.

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