Leuphana political scientist Michael Koß is an expert witness in AfD lawsuit

2022-10-28 According to its own statutes, the AfD-affiliated Desiderius Erasmus Foundation promotes democracy, science and international understanding. Unlike other party-affiliated foundations, it has not received any state funding so far - and is now taking legal action against this before the Federal Constitutional Court. Michael Koß, professor for the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany and the EU at the Institute for Political Science, was an expert witness in the case.

 Political scientist Prof. Dr Michael Koß ©Leuphana
Political scientist Prof. Dr Michael Koß

Representatives of the AfD argue that, like the Heinrich Böll, Konrad Adenauer or Rosa Luxemburg Foundations, the Desiderius Erasmus Foundation (DES) is also entitled to state subsidies, if only for the sake of equal opportunities. Whether this is valid has been an open question since the AfD entered the Bundestag in 2017. A budget note passed by the traffic light coalition, which stipulated that only foundations that were clearly loyal to the constitution would receive funds, did little to resolve the issue.

The AfD had already complained in 2019 that DES had been disadvantaged. In August 2020, the Federal Constitutional Court had initially rejected the AfD's emergency application. Last week, the main case was heard. Michael Koß, as an expert witness, first described the considerable growth of the foundation's funds, which have increased by more than three and a half times since 1999 to 697 million euros per year. He then explained to what extent these funds indirectly benefit the parties in their work - and to what extent they do not. "I abstained from a clear vote because that was not my task. But to say that I reject a foundation law in which the tasks and origin as well as the scope of the funds of the foundations are clearly stated would be an outright misstatement," Koß said with a smile.

As an academic expert on political parties in Germany, Michael Koß is regularly requested by courts and the media. Prior to his professorship in Lüneburg, he worked at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University. His most recent publication was "Democracy without a Majority? Die Volksparteien von gestern und der Parlamentarismus von morgen" by dtv.