BERLIN (Reuters) – The right-wing alternative to Germany (AfD) has scolded one of the two joint leaders after he said the party must divide and expel radical wings in its ranks as the only way to build a broader base of support.
FILE PHOTOS: Joerg Meuthen, newly elected co-chairman of the German right Alternative for Germany (AfD), speaks at a party meeting in Braunschweig, Germany, December 1, 2019. REUTERS / Fabian Bimmer / Photo File
The suggestion of a split by co-leader Joerg Meuthen reflects the deepening crisis in Germany’s largest opposition party which was decided by the decision of the domestic intelligence agency last month to increase the monitoring of “Der Fluegel” – The Wing – established as an extremist organization. in AfD.
“Joerg Meuthen has admitted that he made a big mistake,” the AfD leadership council said in a statement posted on the party’s website on Monday evening after the teleconference. “Meuthen said he would not continue this discussion again.”
Meuthen said in an interview last week that conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel “would lose conservative voters in droves if the AfD was without Fluegel,” expressing deep divisions within the party about its future direction.
He also suggested that Fluegel leader Bjoern Hoecke, who also heads the AfD branch in the eastern state of Thuringia, would do better in the election if he established Fluegel as a party that was completely separate from the AfD.
The AfD has shifted to the right since it was founded in 2013 as a platform to oppose further monetary integration in the single currency zone of the euro. It entered the German parliament in 2017, drawing support from voters who were angry at Merkel’s decision two years earlier to open the border for asylum seekers.
Some AfD members have been alarmed by Hoecke’s increasing influence in the party, which crystallized with the election of Tino Chrupalla last year, an MP from Saxony supported by Fluegel, as co-leader with Meuthen.
Two previous AfD leaders, including its founder, have resigned over what they call the increasing racism in the party.
The decision by the BfV intelligence agency to monitor Fluegel was a setback to AfD’s efforts to fend off allegations that it contained racist views – a taboo for many Germans given the Nazi state’s past.
Support for AfD, which won around 13% in 2017, has dropped by two points in recent weeks. Merkel’s conservatives have witnessed their increasing popularity with voter satisfaction with the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
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