The German AfD politician Beatrix von Storch maintains close contacts with the Brazilian right. And she supports the allegation of voter fraud.
RIO DE JANEIRO taz | With a tweet AfD politician Beatrix von Storch spoke up on November 20th. There you can see photos of protests in Brazil. National jerseys, flags, a sea of yellow and green. The deputy leader of the AfD parliamentary group in the Bundestag wrote: “When will the German press report what’s going on in Brazil?” It wasn’t her first tweet about Brazil, and not the last either.
At the end of October, the right-wing incumbent Jair Bolsonaro narrowly lost the runoff against the social democrat Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva. So far, Bolsonaro has not explicitly acknowledged his election defeat. His party appealed against the result and wanted parts of the votes to be declared invalid. But the Supreme Electoral Court dismissed the lawsuitas there were “no indications of irregularities”.
Many Bolsonaro supporters do not want to accept the defeat and have been walking across the country since the run-off election on the street. They block highways, move in front of military buildings. Many openly doubt the election results, speaking of a “big fraud”. They received support from abroad Steve Banon, the internationally active former chief adviser to former US President Donald Trump. With Beatrix von Storch, the movement now also has prominent support from Germany.
“There is much to suggest that ‘Berlin conditions’ prevailed in parts of Brazil during the elections,” von Storch told the taz. With that she plays on the Election to the Berlin House of Representatives which has to be repeated due to breakdowns. However, there is no evidence that things were as chaotic in Brazil. The military, which is actually close to Bolsonaro, carried out a random parallel count and could not find any electoral fraud. Even numerous allies of Bolsonaro have now recognized the result.
Pioneers of the Christian conservative “counterrevolution”
“What Frau von Storch is doing is anti-democratic,” says SPD member of the Bundestag Manuel Gava of the taz. Gava is a member of the German-Brazilian parliamentary group and traveled to Brazil at the end of October to observe the elections. Storchs’ statements did not surprise him, they “fit into the history of Trump, Bolsonaro and many others who do not understand how to accept democratic results”. Gava is certain that von Storch’s course is not the result of ignorance, but “a deliberately chosen political stylistic device to undermine democratic structures”.
It is no surprise that von Storch spoke so directly about trials in Brazil. The politician maintains close ties to the largest country in Latin America, and there especially to right-wing extremist and arch-conservative circles. In June 2021, she traveled to Brazil and met there, among others, the incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro. There was also a meeting with his son, Eduardo Bolsonaro. He plays an important role in the government, maintains many contacts with right-wing politicians abroad and is considered the unofficial foreign minister.
Von Storch also has ties to the Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Private Property (TFP). The Christian aristocratic network sees itself as a pioneer of a conservative “counter-revolution” and wants to restore the hierarchical structures of the Middle Ages. The TFP was founded in Brazil in 1960 and was an important pillar of the then right-wing military regime. The prevention of agrarian reform in Brazil has always been one of the main concerns of the organization, and it also calls for a return to the monarchy. There are now numerous TFP organizations in the USA and Europe.
Beatrix von Storch and her husband Sven von Storch have been in close contact with the network for at least 20 years, writes the sociologist Andreas Kemper in his blog. One of the central ideologues of society is Paul von Oldenburg, Beatrix von Storch’s cousin. He heads the Brussels office of TFP Europe.
Abortion rights and “gender ideology”
In addition, the von Storchs had a meeting in July 2021 at the Instituto Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira in São Paulo. The institute was named after the founder of the TFP and is considered one of the most important locations of the ultra-conservative network. There they met the two representatives of the Brazilian royal family Orleans-Braganza, which calls for the restoration of monarchist structures and has close ties to President Bolsonaro.
Today the TFP fights mainly against abortion rights, marriage for all and a supposed gender ideology. Between 2009 and 2018, the TFP is said to have invested more than 103 million euros in the fight against liberal gender politics in Europe via a fundraising system. Anti-feminism is also one of Beatrix von Storch’s main focuses. It is attributed to the Christian-conservative current of the AfD.
This is one of the reasons why there are a number of points of intersection with Brazil’s President Bolsonaro. During his tenure, Christian fundamentalist forces were able to establish themselves in the government, and a restructuring of the state according to ultra-conservative ideas was initiated. The AfD politician Waldemar Herdt was also impressed by this, as he told the taz last year. The then member of the Bundestag – himself a member of a free church in Osnabrück – also traveled to Brazil in 2021. There he visited churches and met with prominent representatives of the Christian right.
Sven von Storch, the husband of the busy AfD politician, has also had close ties to ultra-right forces in Latin America for a long time. The businessman was born in Chile and in 2016 his name was circulating as a possible candidate for mayor in his native town of Osorno. He is also said to have supported Chile’s right-wing extremist presidential candidate, José Antonio Kast, last year. In December 2021, he lost the runoff against left-wing candidate Gabriel Boric.
Bolsonaro fans with Hitler salute on the way
Sven von Storch is also the editor of the blog Die Freie Welt. Articles about Brazil have been published there for weeks. The pro-Bolsonaro protest movement gets a lot of space, for which a dossier with numerous texts was even created. Some outrageous lies are spread there. For example, an article quotes a “Brazil expert” who speaks of perhaps the biggest protests “that the world has ever seen.” In reality, demonstrations are still taking place, but the number of participants has decreased significantly. A representative of the highway police recently stated that they wanted to arrest leaders of the anti-democracy protests for various crimes.
That doesn’t seem to bother Beatrix von Storch. “The Brazilians are making use of their democratic right to demonstrate,” she told the taz. The number of participants in the protests dwarfed everything “that the climate movement had ever got on the streets”. What von Storch doesn’t say is that a number of demonstrations openly called for a military intervention. This is punishable in Brazil.
Especially one Video It went viral on social media: it shows Bolsonaro fans raising their right arm in the air in front of a barracks in the southern Brazilian city of São Miguel do Oeste and singing the national anthem. “The use of Nazi and fascist symbols by clearly right-wing ‘protesters’ is deeply shocking,” wrote German Ambassador to Brazil Heiko Thoms Twitter. “This gesture is a disregard for the memory of the victims of National Socialism and the horrors caused by it.”
When asked, Beatrix von Storch did not want to answer whether she had contacts with the groups. On social media, however, she follows far-right activists who have taken part in protests.
Networked in Brazil, isolated in Germany
However, not all AfD politicians think like her. A source told the taz that another AfD representative did not question the election results in the foreign affairs committee. The deputy state chairman of the AfD Thuringia Torben Braga, himself born in Brazil, criticized his party colleague Twitter and called the protests “a disgrace to the country”.
The clear criticism could also be related to internal party conflicts. The former press officer of the German nationalist German fraternity is considered the political foster son of the fascist Björn Höcke. The extreme right AfD wing around Höcke is now in place at war with Beatrix von Storchwho support the camp of the resigned former AfD chairman Jorg Meuthen is attributed.
Beatrix von Storch has also been a member of the German-Brazilian parliamentary group in the German Bundestag since last year. The group is intended to strengthen political exchange between the two countries and network members of parliament. According to information from the taz, von Storch again questioned the election results at a meeting with Caritas Brazil on November 30. The fear is that she could use the parliamentary group to shape German Brazil policy according to her ideas.
However, von Storch is considered isolated in the group. A delegation of German politicians is to travel to Brazil next May – it is possible that Beatrix von Storch will also be taking part.