Thursday

25th Feb 2021

Alternative for Germany party refuses to shun extreme right

  • Alexander Gauland (l) will be one of the leaders of the AfD party's election campaign. He's supported by MEP Beatrix von Storch (r) (Photo: Reuters)

The anti-EU, anti-Islam party Alternative fuer Deutschland (Alternative for Germany, AfD) rejected discussing a motion that aimed to move the party away from the extreme right at a party conference on Sunday (23 April).

The conference held in Cologne saw the party's co-leader, Frauke Petry, suffer a public defeat, media reported, bringing back memories of how she once came to power during an earlier display of public in-fighting.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

AfD delegates did not want to discuss a motion put forward by Petry that would aim to move the party more into the mainstream, and open up to the possibility of forming coalitions with other parties.

They also did not want to vote on a motion that would declare that there is “no place” in the AfD for racist, anti-Semitic, or nationalistic ideologies.

The conference elected two of its members to lead the campaign up to German parliamentary elections on 24 September, after Petry said last week that she would relinquish that role.

AfD delegates chose the 76-year-old co-founder of the party, Alexander Gauland, and 38-year-old Alice Weidel, a former Goldman Sachs banker.

Gauland has been quoted as calling the protesters of the xenophobic Pegida movement “natural allies” of AfD.

The Cologne event marks another dramatic turn in the four-year history of the party, which hopes to be represented in national politics for the first time after this year's elections.

The AfD was founded in 2013 as an anti-euro party, but quickly discussions rose about the direction of the party, especially whether it should embrace an anti-immigrant, anti-Islam stance.

Just two years after its inception, co-founder Bernd Lucke left the party after a power struggle between him and Petry. Lucke said he left because AfD had become “Islamophobic and xenophobic”.

Later in 2015, a rupture appeared between the seven AfD members who had been elected in the European Parliament the year before.

Five of those members left the AfD to begin their own party. Last year, the remaining two left the overlapping European Conservatives and Reformists group.

But while AfD MEP Beatrix von Storch joined the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group – which is dominated by the British Ukip and Italian Five Star Movement of comedian Beppe Grillo – her AfD colleague Marcus Pretzell joined the Europe of Nations and Freedom of French far right party National Front.

On Sunday, Pretzell also distanced himself from the national AfD party. Pretzell, since last year married to Petry, said he would take the party's regional department in North Rhine Westphalia to a different direction.

Von Storch meanwhile supported the new duo, Gauland and Weidel.

Previous in-fighting has had a negative effect on the party's success in opinion polls, and it already lost some (virtual) support compared to the last two years, when it enjoyed popularity during the refugee crisis.

Its best showing so far was in the 2016 state elections in Saxony-Anhalt, where it won 24.3 percent. Though, in the most recent state election, in Saarland, it won 6.2 percent.

Most polls now say AfD will win around 10 percent, which can still make the party the number three nationwide, but keeps it far away from the 65 percent that the two main centre-left and centre-right parties are expected to take up.

Right-wing German MEP quits parliament group

AfD deputy Beatrix von Storch, under fire for anti-immigrant remarks, abandons EU parliament group prior to a vote to kick her out. Future of other AfD member unsure.

Chemnitz neo-Nazis pose questions for Germany

UN human rights commissioner urged EU leaders to condemn violence that recalled the 1930s, but the local situation in former East Germany does not apply to the whole country.

News in Brief

  1. Armenian prime minister denounces 'coup' attempt
  2. UK warns EU against escalating City-of-London battle
  3. Brussels mulls extending data-roaming regime for 10 years
  4. Full list of European firms US forced to ditch Russia pipeline
  5. French diplomat calls Johnson 'inveterate liar'
  6. French town's switch to vegetarian meals prompts backlash
  7. Police seize 23 tonnes of cocaine in Europe's biggest haul
  8. WHO Covax programme delivers first vaccines to Ghana

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. Who are the EU's new Russian deplorables?
  2. Afghan asylum family beaten in Greece, set adrift at sea
  3. EU leaders face Covid-mutations dilemma at summit
  4. EU sets out plan to mitigate 'unavoidable' climate events
  5. Questions for Germany on EU's Russia strategy
  6. Greenland's snap election exposes global mineral demand
  7. Covid-19 certificates back on EU leaders' agenda
  8. Ethiopia war creating new 'refugee crisis', EU envoy warns

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us