President Jair Bolsonaro hosted far-right German lawmaker Beatrix von Storch at the presidential palace last week. Ms. von Storch is the leading voice of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which won 13 percent of the vote in the 2017 elections. The party was placed under surveillance by the German intelligence agency for extremism.
“An impressive encounter in Brazil,” Ms. von Storch wrote on Instagram. “I would like to thank the Brazilian president for the friendly welcome and I am impressed by his clear understanding of the problems in Europe and the political challenges of our time.”
“At a time when the left is promoting its ideology through its international networks and organizations on a global level, we conservatives must network more closely and stand up for our conservative values on an international level. Besides the U.S. and Russia, Brazil is a global strategic partner for us, with whom we want to shape the future together,” she added.
The AfD is linked to several extremist positions, leading to the enhanced level of scrutiny into the far-right party, which is unprecedented in post-World War II times. The party supported the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol and has vilified Muslim immigrants in Germany, as well as attempting to play down the atrocities committed by the Nazi party. Late in 2017, Twitter temporarily suspended Ms. von Storch after she referred to a group of immigrants as “barbaric, Muslim, rapist hordes.”
She also provoked outrage in January 2016 after answering “yes” to a Facebook poll asking whether firearms should be used against women and children trying to cross the German border. Ms. von Storch, whose grandfather served as finance minister throughout the Third Reich, claimed her computer mouse “slipped.”
Many German political observers consider AfD to be the most serious threat to German institutions since World War II. In that sense, the party draws similarities to Jair Bolsonaro.
His administration has been characterized by constant jabs at Brazil’s institutions, attempts to weaken anti-corruption frameworks, and not-so-veiled threats of a potential self-coup. Last week, newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo reported that Mr. Bolsonaro’s Defense Minister threatened to cancel the 2022 election if Congress does not bend to the president’s desire of reinstating paper ballots in Brazil’s electoral system.
Besides the president himself, Ms. von Storch met with Congresswoman Bia Kicis — chair of the House’s Constitution and Justice Committee — and with Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, the president’s third-eldest son and his main foreign policy advisor.