The moderate face of Germany’s AFD moves away as the party moves further to the right

After losing a long-running power struggle with extremists in the party, he has announced that he has been declared the co-leader of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AFD).

In a letter to AFD members on Monday, Jorge Mouthen, a 60-year-old member of the European Parliament, said he would no longer run for party leader in the December by-elections.

Mouthen, a former economics professor, has been the co-leader of the AFD since the summer of 2015 and represents its more moderate face.

But he was at odds with other senior AFD figures, such as Alice Waddell and Tino Krupalla, leaders of the party’s parliamentary group, backed by influential extremists, especially East Germany.

In his letter to party members, Muthen described him as a leader of an “incredibly demanding time” characterized by “some hardship and despair.” He promised, however, that “neither be silent nor stop my political work”, without specifying what it might be.

Tensions and divisions have restored the AFD over the years. Muthen led a long-running campaign against “The Wing”, a hard-right movement within the party formed in 2015, and he was behind a successful attempt to expel Andreas Kalbitz, one of the wing’s most prominent members, from the AFD. In 2020.

The wing, which was classified as a right-wing extremist organization by Germany’s internal intelligence agency in 2020 and was formally monitored, was abolished by the AFD executive board the same year. But its other founder, the head of the AFD in the central state of Thuringia, Bijaran Hoque, remains an influential force.

The AFD started out as a Euroseptic party but in 2015 thousands of asylum seekers, mostly from war-torn Syria, used their concerns to drive public outrage in parliament. It became the largest opposition party in the Bundestag.

But its fortunes have plummeted amid changes in public concern during the coronavirus epidemic and its very public division. Its regional branches in Thuringia, Saxony and several other states are under local surveillance by local intelligence agencies.

The group tried to protest the movement against the coronavirus lockdown and the vaccine skeptic group. It failed to make use of that alignment in last month’s good results in the national election, where its share of the vote fell from 12.5 percent in 2017 to 10.3 percent.

The result of the election resulted in a mass division between Mouthen on one side and Waddell and Kruppalla on the other. At a news conference after the vote, Muthen pointed to the nationwide results as evidence of the need for a more moderate path, a moment to sway his more right-wing rivals, arguing that the party has “significant acceptance issues” with mainstream voters.

Waddell and Krupalla say they are satisfied with the results, arguing that they are being misrepresented in the media. Wiedel argued that the media had “put the greens on top.” Greens is in third place with 14.8 percent, followed by Center-Left Social Democrats and Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats in second place.

Yet one aspect of last month’s election suggests that the party could move further to the right.

The best AFD result was in Thuringia, where it received more votes than any other party for the first time – 24 percent. AFD also topped Saxony with 24.3 percent.

Radical party statistics prove the election results show that Muthen’s approach has failed. They argued that they adopted the more moderate style he called for in the campaign, using soft-spoken voices in Stump’s speeches and less aggressive campaign posters under the “Germany” slogan. But normal. ”

Muthen is not the first AFD leader to move away from a similar controversy. In 2017, then-party leader Frank Petrie resigned shortly after the Bundestag election, citing concerns that it was not far enough away from hardline nationalists.

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