This has been a week of notable setbacks for right-wing populists. The opposition against them has grown to such a volume that it has led to significant changes. In fact, two major incidents have occurred that indicate a shift in the public’s tolerance of their views.
Firstly, the magazine “Compact” has faced a significant blow. This magazine, which the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution has classified as “certain extremist”, has been pulled from the shelves of Valora (Press & Books), Dr. Eckert (Ludwig), Lagardère Travel Retail (Relay) and Schmitt & Hahn. These are retail chains that collectively operate more than 750 branches across Germany. This means that anyone wishing to read content promoting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, Islamophobic hate speech or any other fringe ideas will have to look elsewhere.
However, one might ask why this action has only been taken now. As far back as 2021, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution had certified that Jürgen Elsässer’s monthly magazine not only contained the aforementioned content but also exhibited a “fundamental rejection of democratic decision-making processes”.
The Petition Against the Sale of “Compact” Gathers 100,000 Signatures
Valora stated to the media outlet “Correctiv”, which first broke the story, that freedom of the press is at the core of their values. They do not want to provide a platform for publications “that despise freedom of the press and freedom of expression and aim to overcome it.” It seems that until now, this was not considered a pressing issue.
This decision appears to be a direct response to an online petition titled “Stop Compact – No right-wing agitation in the station bookstore!”. This petition has gathered over 100,000 signatures since its launch two weeks ago.
For years, politicians from the AfD were quietly tolerated at the opening event for the Berlinale. They received their invitations through a set quota for politicians, a cultural policy practice that was not previously questioned. It was only when an open letter from filmmakers and reactions on social media and in the press started a debate on this practice.
The parliamentary group leader of the Berlin AfD, Kristin Brinker, stated that the outcry from “a few activists” should be taken lightly as the AfD has long been a part of urban society. However, it seems she has misjudged urban society. Earlier in February, Berlinale managing director Mariette Rissenbeek described the situation as a “dilemma,” but on Thursday, after much public opposition, she announced that the AfD representatives had been disinvited. It will be interesting to see what other changes the future holds if voices continue to rise.