Dispute over hall for election event: AfD complains about unequal treatment in Bonn

Dispute over hall for election event : AfD complains about unequal treatment in Bonn

The district association of Alternative für Deutschland is preparing for the European elections and wanted to rent a hall in Bonn for an election event. The party says this proved difficult. Lord Mayor Ashok Sridharan disagrees.

District association spokesperson Sascha Ulbrich said it was only with the help of a law firm that the city of Bonn sent his party a list of possible municipal meeting places. Ulbrich published his criticism of this behaviour in an open letter to Lord Mayor Ashok Sridharan. The city of Bonn told the GA it disagreed with this account.

Ulbrich reports the AfD had asked several venues, including the Brückenforum and Haus der Bildung, for available dates in the weeks before the European elections. In each case, their inquiries were in vain. While Ulbrich acknowledges that private operators or tenants of municipal halls such as the Brückenforum are generally free to decide to whom they rent their halls, he sees things differently in the case of the Haus der Bildung. “That is a public building and must also be accessible to us as a democratically legitimised party.”

After an employee there turned down his requested dates he asked about free dates. “I was told they could not tell me. That’s why we appointed a lawyer.” In the open letter to Sridharan, he is now complaining that his party: “was denied access to public premises for politically motivated reasons.”

Lord Mayor Ashok Sridharan indicated to the GA that the city had not failed to book premises for the AfD. He had first learned about a request for an appointment from the AfD’s lawyer. The law firm gave the city a deadline. He was very surprised at this approach. The city of Bonn has sent the AfD’s law firm occupancy lists for various venues, including the adult education centre in the Haus der Bildung, as well as a list with meeting venues that can be booked by the city. Sridharan: “The city of Bonn of course treats the AfD like all other registered parties.”

In the case of premises leased to third parties, such as Bad Godesberg City Hall or the Brückenforum Beuel, for example, the city can only influence the occupancy of the premises to the extent permitted by private law contracts. In both cases, the city of Bonn cannot exert any influence on the occupancy.

Jürgen Harder, tenant of the Brückenforum in Beuel, is known for not mincing his words: “I don’t want the AfD in my building. I have had it legally checked whether I can decide for myself to whom I rent. And I can do that.”

(Original text: Lisa Inhoffen. Translation: kc)