Germany’s AfD vetoes fresh poll for party leadership

Rifts in Germany’s far-wing party emerged after anti-Semitic remarks by a lawmaker. According to a newspaper report, AfD’s co-leader Petry wanted to make a bid for sole party leadership.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Frauke Petry, co-leader of the party Alternative for Germany AfD, points her finger at the gathering of the right-populist party on, March 13, 2016.

In a closed-door meeting, representatives of the Germany’s far right-wing AfD party decided not to hold a special conference to choose a new party leader.

The 11-hour long emergency meeting which was held in the northern German city of Kassel was called to address a leadership dispute between co-heads Frauke Petry and Jorg Meuthen.

After long deliberations, members of the Alternative for Germany party (AfD) decided not to hold a fresh leadership vote after internal rifts emerged in party. According to German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 37 members out of 50 voted against holding a fresh poll to elect a new leader.

The newspaper also reported that there were rumours that Petry was making a bid for sole party leadership. However, shortly before Sunday's AfD meeting, Petry refuted the allegations and distanced herself from the alleged scheme in an interview with the German daily newspaper Bild.

Rifts within

Petry heads the opposition AfD in eastern Saxony state's parliament in Dresden, while Meuthen leads another AfD faction in Baden-Württemberg's state parliament.

The split in the AfD emerged over anti-Semitic remarks by a lawmaker. A Baden-Württemberg AfD member had claimed that the Holocaust was given too much attention.

Joerg Meuthen, co-leader of the party Alternative for Germany or AfD passes waiting journalists in Stuttgart, Germany, on July 6, 2016.

The AfD has won opposition footholds in eight out of Germany's 16 regional parliaments. The anti-immigration party only needs five percent in order to gain seats in Germany's Bundestag.

The party has gained increasing support from those dissatisfied with Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee policy. Polls suggest it could garner around 15 percent of the national vote in the upcoming elections.

Anti-immigrant sentiments

In an interview with Bild newspaper published on Saturday, Frauke Petry said that asylum seekers and illegal immigrants should be sent to islands outside Europe.

Frauke Petry, co-leader of the party Alternative for Germany or AfD answers the questions of journalists in Stuttgart, Germany, on July 6, 2016.

The influx of over one million migrants last year fueled support for the AfD. The party is expected to make a strong showing in state votes next month in Berlin and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

"Illegal migrants and asylum seekers whose applications are rejected will be accommodated on the two islands outside Europe that are protected by the United Nations," Petry added, without naming the two islands she had in mind.

Known for her fiery speeches to AfD supporters, Petry sparked an uproar earlier this year when she called on German police to be allowed to use firearms against illegal migrants.


TRTWorld and agencies