An ADR politician has quit the party after her links with the far-right Civitas movement were revealed.
Anne-Marie Yim, the vice president of ADR International, told deputy Fernand Kartheiser she would resign her membership of the party.
Kartheiser said that no further investigation would be required.
The resignation follows extensive revelations of links between the ADR and France's controversial Civitas party, which have highlighted the blurred lines between pandemic skepticism and far-right ideologies.
Revelations of potential links between the ADR and France's controversial Civitas party have stirred debate, highlighting the blurred lines between pandemic skepticism and far-right ideologies.
Civitas, a fundamentalist Catholic party formed in 1999, is poised to be disbanded following allegations of anti-Semitism. One of their speakers suggested during a university talk that French people of Jewish heritage should not hold citizenship.
In January, the ADR organised an international conference to which it invited the French medical expert Christian Perrone, who is known for his disputed stances on the Covid-19 pandemic. According to political scientist Léonie de Jonge, Perrone does not have classic right-wing leanings, but the pandemic often created overlaps between skepticism and different types of extremism.
At the event in question, Perrone sat alongside Civitas president Alain Escada, among other people. In contrast to Perrone, Escada is a well-known figure among far-right circles, both in his home country of Belgium and later also in France as the leader of Civitas.
De Jonge commented: "Civitas has been a registered party in France since 2016 and supported candidate Eric Zemmour during the last presidential election. Zemmour is against the legalisation of same-sex marriage, against immigration, so clearly active on the radical, that is to say far-right, end of the spectrum.
At the conference in question, the ADR's Fernand Kartheiser took over the role of moderator.
Screenshot taken from a video uploaded by the YouTube channel of ADR candidate Sylvie Mischel: seated on the left is Civitas president Alain Escada, next to Swiss pharmacist Jacques Bauer, ADR member Anne-Marie Yim, and Christian Perrone. Standing at the lectern is Fernand Kartheiser.
In conversation with RTL, Kartheiser explained that he did not know of Civitas beforehand, nor did he know who Escada was: "I was standing there and I did not know who the person was that Mr Perrone brought along and that sat down next to him, his friends, acquaintances, I do not know these people and I did not want to police them and ask who sat down next to him, that is not my job."
According to Escada, he was invited to the event by Anne-Marie Yim.
Yim also spoke at a Civitas event in November 2022 and came under fire for statements she made on the origins of Covid-19. Religious historian Mike Richartz noted: "She says that the Covid epidemic was planned by Jews, which she bases on the antisemitic pamphlet 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion' from the beginning of the 20th century, which was also used by Adolf Hitler to define antisemitism in his 'Mein Kampf', for instance."
When asked about this, Kartheiser said that Yim's statements were not sanctioned by the ADR. He further made the case that his party is the strongest supporter of Israel in the Chamber of Deputies, only criticising violations of human rights when they occur. He acknowledged that the case in question is now being investigated, but said that he would not take any premature decisions despite antisemitism not being tolerated by the ADR.
According to de Jonge, Yim's statements are not isolated cases and speak for the ADR's continuous move towards the right in recent years. While she thinks that the party is more moderate at a national level, they are believed to be moving further right in their alliances with movements abroad. In that context, de Jonge referred to a visit that the president of the ADR's youth section made to the Transatlantic Patriot Summit in Budapest in May.
Kartheiser elaborated on the alliances that the party has in the European Parliament, most of which he said to be traditional conservative movements. Nevertheless, he also admitted that the ADR is usually happy to discuss matters of national interest with whoever approaches them, although they occasionally make exceptions.
Amid accusations of extremist tendencies, Kartheiser reiterated his stance that the ADR is conservative, yet moderate and socially engaged: "Compared to other international conservative parties, we surely are part of the moderate side of the spectrum."