At first glance, the website of “Flyerservice Hahn” looks serious. It explains that it is a company specialising in the distribution of flyers for its customers. It advertises an established distribution network and prices that are unbeatable by the competition. It all sounds pretty convincing and apparently also convinced the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party during the federal election campaign, reports Der Tagesspiegel.
The company allegedly received orders from various district associations of the far-right party to deliver large quantities of leaflets. It collected campaign material from the respective district associations, which it was to deliver to the mailboxes with the help of Flyerservice Hahn’s publicized distribution structure, set up in 2021, the election year.
But this was never done. AfD fell into the trap of a fictitious company, for which the artists’ collective Zentrum für politische Schönheit [Centre for Political Beauty] has claimed responsibility, which collected far-right election campaign material across the country and disposed of it. The images show activists throwing piles of leaflets into dumpsters.
On Tuesday, the artists’ group explained the background to the guerrilla campaign on a website that, among other things, describes Flyerservice Hahn as “the world market leader in the non-distribution of Nazi leaflets”.
The far-right party had previously said that more than a million campaign leaflets had not been distributed, according to German media, which report that district associations and candidates in Lower Saxony, Berlin, Hesse, Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate have been affected.
Activists have said they collected five million leaflets from 85 associations, “72 tonnes of AfD rubbish”.
“Unbelievable, buto true: a joint stock company with no address, no commercial register and no tax identification number makes all AfD associations in the republic an offer they can’t refuse and buys orders in the millions,” the collective explains on the website. “With such low prices (…), almost all local associations were convinced.
According to ARD journalist Daniel Laufer, it is not certain that the AfD was so naive as to fall for a fictitious company with no tax identification number or commercial registration. According to Laufer, the Flyerservice Hahn website was later edited by the group to remove some of the data.
.@politicalbeauty ließ sich nach eigenen Angaben 5 Mio. #AfD-Flyer an seine Scheinfirma #FlyerserviceHahn schicken, die weder im Handelsregister stehe, noch andere Kunden habe, laut AGB die Verteilung von Parteiwerbung ausschließe.
Die Darstellung ist Teil der Täuschung, denn… pic.twitter.com/wSQMRwMaMc-
Daniel Laufer (@DanielLaufer) September 28, 2021
On their website, the artists deny that they stole campaign material. “We simply offered to take AfD campaign material and distribute it for them. The party gratefully accepted the offer and delivered 72 tons of advertising material to our logistics centers throughout Germany. Unfortunately, we did not manage to distribute any of the material in time.
“In the spring, we went to AfD election campaign events and were handed out leaflets. Then we threw them in the nearest rubbish bin because of their contents. Every citizen is free to do this; we have simply industrialized this process,” says the collective.
AfD threatens to file a complaint
Alternative for Germany has announced its intention to file a complaint, according to German media.
“They are deliberately trying to damage AfD in the election campaign, and with a high degree of fraudulent energy. This unprecedented action does not only affect AfD. Significant damage to democracy has already been done here,” Tino Chrupalla, the party’s candidate, said last Friday. In the statement, in which he already targeted the artists’ collective, he acknowledged that the alleged company had offered them its services and that they had been made to work for the AfD. several orders.
The Center for Political Beauty refutes that their behavior is punishable. “There is no order confirmation, no legally valid contracts, but only ‘offers’ from a leaflet distribution company without any legal form.”
“After all, it is not our problem that AfD does not have any members willing to hand out leaflets, but that they are apparently busy all day doing the Hitler salute in their backyard. Besides, AfD was free to choose the service provider it wanted to use. We didn’t force the party to do anything,” they say.
The collective, which is not the first time it has tried to draw public attention to AfD with controversial actions, is asking for donations to fund the legal dispute. So far it has raised more than 95,000 euros.
The far-right formation, subjected to a strict cordon sanitaire by the rest of the parties, has fallen in these elections compared to those of 2017, when it entered for the first time as the third force in Parliament.
AfD has lost its position as the main opposition party, but the fall is not very big, barely 2.3 points, and they re-enter the Bundestag with 10.3% of the votes. It was the strongest party in Thuringia and Saxony, in the east.
Some analysts believe that they have been affected by the internal schism, have moved poorly in the institutions these years and have focused on issues that do not mobilize votes beyond their electoral base.