The German parliament will review security measures after an ex-MP was arrested over a suspected plot to overthrow the government, a vice-president of the Bundestag said Friday.
The suspected plotters are thought to be supporters of the “Citizens of the Reich” (Reichsbuerger), an ideological movement that encompasses far-right extremists, conspiracy theorists and gun enthusiasts.
“We will carefully examine which security provisions for the Bundestag we need to adjust,” Katrin Goering-Eckardt of the Green party told the Funke media group.
Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, a Berlin judge and former MP for the far-right AfD party, who served in parliament between 2017 and 2021, was among those arrested in nationwide raids by police on Wednesday.
Malsack-Winkemann and her alleged collaborators are accused by federal prosecutors of preparing “to violently force their way into the German parliament”.
During the raids, police found one of the suspected plotters in possession of an “enemies list” with 18 names including prominent politicians and journalists targeted by the group, according to the TAZ daily.
The group is said to have planned to install aristocrat Prince Heinrich XIII Reuss as Germany’s leader, while the former MP would have taken over the justice portfolio in a new government.
The presence of a former AfD representative among the accused was “striking and a very serious incident”, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Thursday.
Malsack-Winkemann’s “remaining contacts in parliament need to be checked urgently”, Social Democrat MP Sebastian Hartmann also told Funke.
“I assume that they hoped to have help from the inside for their coup plans,” Hartmann said.
The AfD, which currently holds 78 of the 736 seats in the Bundestag, sought to distance itself from the alleged putsch attempt.
“We condemn and reject such efforts,” the leadership of the party said in a statement.
Individual AfD members however offered other opinions. The raids were “one of the biggest abuses of power” in the history of Germany, MP Petr Bystron said on Twitter.
The Reichsbuerger generally believe in the continued existence of the pre-World War I German Reich, or empire, under a monarchy and several groups have declared their own “states”.