ER Editor: It all seems to be happening in German politics this week as the SDP party’s (centre left) veer to the Left has put the Grand Coalition with Merkel in some jeopardy. Meanwhile, the Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) party, buoyed by recent regional election results, has also chosen new and moderate leadership at its party conference this weekend.
Below we offer two takes, the second of which is by MSM outlet, Deutsche Welle (DW).
AfD elects new party leaders
The AfD delegates gathered in Braunschweig have elected Jörg Meuten and Tino Chrupalla as chairmen of the party.
BRAUNSCHWEIG – Jörg Meuthen won with 69.18 percent against Nicole Höchst and Wolfgang Gedeon. Tino Chrupalla was elected in the second ballot by 54 percent of the delegates.
Chrupalla has taken over Alexander Gauland’s (pictured) post. He prevailed against Gottfried Curio and Dana Guth. The master painter from Saxony (ER: Chrupalla) was down-to-earth and balanced during his campaign after Gauland had previously announced that he no longer wanted to run. Gauland had named Chrupalla as his possible successor.
As deputy chairmen, Alice Weidel, Stephan Brandner and Beatrix von Storch were elected. Brandner and von Storch will replace Albrecht Glaser and Georg Pazderski. Both were unable to hold a majority in several ballots.
Klaus Fohrmann was re-elected as treasurer. He is so far the only one of the “100 against Höcke” of the old federal executive, which has succeeded. Carsten Hütter from Saxony is Deputy Treasurer.
In his opening speech, Meuthen addressed the party’s responsibility. He warned that he was “not available for an outside right-wing party”. The old and new chairman of the party echoed Alexander Gauland, who said in the opening speech that the party must remain a “patriotic, democratic and bourgeois people’s party”.
The dream of a few of a “small social-revolutionary party” is unrealistic, Gauland said. “We Germans are not good at revolutions.” If conservatives find their way back to a “rational national policy,” they would not be able to ignore the AfD in their search for a partner.
The AfD had “changed this country,” said Gauland. It has given a voice to those who oppose the dissolution of the nation states.
Chrupalla also received support from the vice-chairwoman of the AfD parliamentary group Alice Weidel. She told media representatives that the election of the Saxon member of parliament would be “a sign of respect for Gauland” and his merits as a bridge builder.
Germany’s anti-immigrant AfD rejects shift further right
AfD members have rejected a bid by a more extreme faction of the party to gain a greater say in policy direction. The relatively moderate Jörg Meuthen was re-elected as co-leader, along with a compromise candidate.
The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) on Saturday opened a two-day conference where, as it seeks to build on recent election successes, it rejected a swerve to the extreme right.
After delegates voted on Saturday evening, the relatively moderate candidate Jörg Meuthen secured another term as co-chair, while compromise candidate Tino Chrupalla was elected to replace outgoing co-chair Alexander Gauland.
Internal power struggles had been expected to dominate the halls of the conference center, where 600 party delegates, in addition to choosing co-chairs, were voting on 13 members of the executive committee.
An extreme-right faction known as the Wing (Flügel) had been hoping to boost its representation on the executive council and make a bid to swing the leadership in its direction.
The two-day gathering in the city of Braunschweig comes on the heels of state elections in eastern Germany in recent months that saw the AfD surge to second place in Saxony, Brandenburg and Thuringia with more than 20% of the vote.
Meuthen used the moment to revel in the declining support for Germany’s traditional center-left Social Democrats and center-right Christian Democrats.
“We are experiencing the implosion of formerly dominant forces with the simultaneous strenghtening of new forces… I believe that government-building without us will become more and more difficult, until it does not work at all anymore,” he said.
All parties represented in Germany’s federal and state parliaments have refused to work with the AfD.
As Meuthen expressed ambitions to enter government, some 20,000 protesters gathered outside the conference. Some shouted “all of Germany hates the AfD” and “no place for Nazis.”
Extreme right of the AfD
The Wing’s influence in the AfD has been strengthened after two of its key figures — Björn Höcke and Andreas Kalbitz — scored significant electoral victories in regional elections in eastern Germany this year. By some estimates, up to 40% of party members are sympathetic to the Wing, giving them a prominent role in choosing the executive council and co-leaders.
Chrupalla, who won the support of 54.5% of delegates, was viewed as a compromise candidate acceptable to moderates and radicals. He was ultimately able to battle off a challenge from a more hardline lawmaker, Gottfried Curio.
At a press conference, Chrupalla disputed the idea that the AfD used incendiary rhetoric to win votes, saying “we have used reason” to gain centrist voters, which “requires no drastic language.”
Founded in 2013 as a euroskeptic party, the AfD has drifted to the right as it seized on the 2015 refugee crisis to promote an anti-Islam, anti-foreigner and pro-family program. Despite scoring above 20% in eastern Germany, it has stalled nationwide at about 13-15%.
Moderates within the party want to appeal to a broader political base and disgruntled voters by shedding its far-right image in a bid to capture support from other parties, particularly the ruling conservative Christian Democrats and their center-left Social Democrat coalition partners.
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