Posts Tagged ‘Petry’

Is Germany’s Extreme-Right AfD Falling Apart? Or Beaten Into Submission?

January 11, 2019

The far-right Alternative for Germany may be unravelling at the edges after a disgruntled member struck off on his own. That’s bad news for the populists ahead of key elections, says DW political analyst Jefferson Chase.

Shattered glass in front of AfD office

There is now even more right-wing alternative to the Alternative for Germany (AfD).

On Thursday, the former party leader in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, Andre Poggenburg, resigned his party membership. Only hours later, the far-right hardliner announced that he is forming a party of his own, the “Aufbruch deutscher Patrioten” (Uprising of German Patriots), to compete with the AfD.

Poggenburg was one of the more extreme nationalist and xenophobic leaders within the AfD, which twice censured him for using language reminiscent of right-wing extremism. He has close ties to the radical Identitarian and Pegida movements. And for much of his career he was also an ally of Thuringian AfD leader Björn Höcke, who is regarded as one of the main motors behind the AfD’s ethnic-nationalist hardline wing and who has often been accused of anti-Semitism.

In 2016, Poggenburg became the leader of the opposition in the Saxony-Anhalt regional parliament, but stepped down last year from that position and as regional party leader following controversial anti-Turkish remarks. The emblem of Poggenburg’s new party, a blue cornflower, has been criticized for having right-wing extremist and Nazi connotations.

Reaction to Poggenburg’s defection among AfD members has been mixed. Some hardliners have rued his departure, while members of the relatively moderate Alternative Mitte group have welcomed it. Regional parliamentarian Uwe Junge, for instance, tweeted: “Andre Poggenburg is leaving the AfD! Finally. I hope he takes all the extremist fools and self-proclaimed patriots with him.”

Uwe Junge, MdL


André Poggenburg verläßt die AfD!
Endlich – ich hoffe, er nimmt den ganzen Narrensaum und die selbst ernannten Patrioten mit! , !  via @junge_freiheit

André Poggenburg verläßt die AfD

Der frühere AfD-Landes- und Fraktionschef von Sachsen-Anhalt, André Poggenburg, ist aus der Partei ausgetreten. Am Donnerstag abend erklärte er in einer E-Mail an die AfD-Bundesgeschäftsstelle den…

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A limit to the AFD’s move right?

The 43-year-old may not have been universally liked within the AfD, but party leaders have to be concerned that Poggenburg’s supporters could follow him and defect — a scenario that has some precedent.

The Alternative for Germany was founded in 2013 primarily in opposition to European monetary union. But a lack of electoral success shifted the focus to hostility toward mass migration. Co-founder Bernd Lucke was replaced by the far more conservative Frauke Petry as party head in 2015.

That shift roughly coincided with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision not to close Germany’s borders as large numbers of refugees and migrants began arriving from Syria, Northern Africa, Afghanistan and other places. That brought a surge of support for the AfD from Germans who feared that large-scale migration would threaten their way of life and the country’s traditions.

A protest organized by the AfD, and the Pegida and “Pro Chemnitz” movements | John MacDougall/AFP via Getty Images

Since 2015, the AfD has moved further and further to the nationalist, some might say racist right, guided by such figures as current party co-leader Alexander Gauland, Höcke and Poggenburg. That evolution has come to the dismay of more moderate AfD members, including Petry, who became increasingly marginalized in the run-up to the 2017 German federal election.

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Frauke Petry

The party recorded an impressive 12.6 percent of the national vote and eventually became the main opposition party in the Bundestag. The triumph prompted Gauland to promise to “hound” Merkel and Germany’s traditional political parties.

But the day after the vote, Petry and her supporters quit the AfD. That meant the parliamentary group immediately lost three seats. Petry subsequently formed the Blue Party, but it has yet to contest any elections and has attracted very few members.

Potential damage in eastern elections

The schism with Poggenburg and his supporters could be far more damaging than the split with the Petry. For starters, this is the first time that a rival group has formed to the right of the AfD. And it comes as the party had hoped to kick start its stalled momentum with three regional elections in its stronghold of eastern Germany: Saxony and Brandenburg on September 1 and Thuringia on October 27.

After becoming Germany’s third-largest party at national level in 2017, the AfD failed to dramatically increase its support in regional elections in 2018. The populists came in a distant third with just over 10 percent of the vote in Bavaria and fourth in Hesse with slightly more than 13 percent.

The AfD continues to attract some 13.5 percent support in opinion polls, but the far-right populists have been outstripped by the Greens who have been polling 18 to 20 percent.

The AfD does attract 20 to 25 percent support in the east, but splits like those with Petry and Poggenburg could see erosion on both ends of the AfD’s spectrum of voters. Petry, who is from Saxony and won her constituency outright there in 2017, could siphon off moderates. Poggenburg, who was also born and bred in the formerly Communist east, could take away some hardline far-right and extremist voters.

Many mainstream political analysts have predicted, perhaps with an admixture of wishful thinking, that the tug-of-war between relative moderates and hardliners could rip the AfD apart at the seams. That remains a very hypothetical scenario — at the time of writing, Poggenburg’s new party has a grand total of ten Twitter followers.

But arguably more than any other German party, the AfD’s appeal relies on the perception that it represents a popular movement that is inexorably growing in strength. The latest discord undercuts the idea of the AfD as a truly viable alternative.


Damaged AfD office in Döbeln following explosion (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Willnow)

Police authorities said “an unknown substance was detonated” on Thursday at around 7:20 p.m. local time (620 UTC) in front of the building that houses the offices of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the Saxon city of Döbeln.

Doors and windows of the building hou


German election, the day after: AfD’s Frauke Petry won’t join parliamentary group

September 25, 2017

Alternative for Germany co-chair Frauke Petry has shocked her party colleagues by saying she won’t join their new parliamentary group in the Bundestag. SPD leader Schulz says again that SPD will enter opposition.

Deutschland Bundestagswahl | AfD Wahlparty | Petry (picture alliance/dpa/B. Von Jutrczenka)
  • AfD co-chair Frauke Petry will not join her party’s parliamentary party in the new Bundestag.
  • The decision follows months of feuding between Petry and the rest of the AfD leadership.
  • On Sunday, the AfD won 12.6 percent of the national vote and will enter the Bundestag for the first time.

All updates in Central European Summer Time (UTC +2)


10:53 The CSU’s former minister president of Bavaria, Günther Backstein, has said the Greens and the CSU are “like fire and water.” FDP vice-chair Wolfgang Kubicki has said talks on a CDU/CSU-FDP-Green coalition will “not be a sure-fire success.”

10:18 SPD top candidate Martin Schulz says once again that his party will go into opposition in the new parliament and not enter a new grand coalition with Chancellor Merkel’s CDU and the CSU.

09:52 Following Petry’s departure, Gauland said he did not believe his statements were responsible for Petry’s decision.

Petry had publically criticized Gauland for saying that the AfD would “go after” the new government and for saying that Germany should be proud of its soldiers in the First and Second World Wars, which she said were not constructive and could push voters away from the party.

09:34 AfD co-chair Jörg Meuthen apologized for the incident and said he “had had no knowledge” of Petry’s decision, which he said was a “bombshell.”

Petry later referenced inner party disagreements and her belief that the AfD could offer nothing more than opposition for her decision.

“We should be open about the fact there there is conflict regarding content within the AfD, we should not pretend it doesn’t exist,” Petry told reporters. She added that the party had become “anarchical” in the weeks leading up to the election and “cannot offer the voter a credible platform for government.”

09:16 Frauke Petry, the co-chair and longtime public face of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), said Monday at a party press conference she will not join the AfD’s parliamentary party in the new legislative period.

The surprise announcement shocked colleagues present at the conference that included AfD top candidates Alice Weidel and Alexander Gauland and escalated a months-long inner-party feud.

Speaking to reporters in Berlin, Petry said: “I decided after careful reflection that I will not sit with the (AfD) parliamentary group.”

She then promptly left the room without taking questions, which her colleagues had apparently not expected.

Petry won the vote in her Saxony constituency.

The far-right AfD won 12.6 per cent of the vote in Sunday’s nationwide election and will enter the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, for the first time as the third-largest party with 94 seats.

amp/se (dpa, AFP)

German Nationalist Leader Frauke Petry Has Immunity From Prosecution Lifted

August 29, 2017

BERLIN — A German state legislature has lifted a prominent nationalist leader’s immunity from prosecution, paving the way for a possible indictment over allegations she lied under oath.

The investigation of Frauke Petry, a national co-leader of Alternative for Germany, centers on different accounts that she and another party official gave to a parliamentary committee about a candidate list for a 2014 regional election.

Ivo Klatte, a spokesman for Saxony’s regional parliament, told news agency dpa Tuesday no objections were raised against lifting Petry’s immunity after a panel recommended the move — backed by Petry herself, who says she wants to clear her name.

The party hopes to enter Germany’s national parliament in an election Sept. 24. Petry is one of its best-known figures but her influence has declined in recent months.


* Investigations into Petry on suspicion of perjury relating to campaign financing for Saxony’s 2014 state election have been going on for more than a year

* Petry has maintained her innocence, but it marks another challenge for her and the AfD ahead of Germany’s federal elections

The midnight deadline for lawmakers in Saxony to protest a parliamentary committee’s recommendation to lift Petry’s immunity from prosecution passed with none of them doing so.

“Nobody objected to it,” parliamentary spokesperson Ivo Klatte said on Tuesday. The lawmakers had since August 17 to lodge an objection.

That clears the way for state prosecutors to press charges against Petry following a year-long investigation into alleged perjury. A spokesman for the Dresden-based state prosecutor did not elaborate on whether or when charges may be laid.

Read more: 10 things you need to know about Germany’s right-wing AfD

What are the accusations?

Petry is suspected of lying under oath during an electoral oversight committee hearing in November 2015. She and the AfD’s then treasurer, Carsten Hütter, are alleged to have given conflicting testimony about the AfD’s candidate list and campaign financing ahead of Saxony’s 2014 state election.

The issue in question revolves around loans that the AfD had requested from its candidates in order to support its campaign in the eastern German state. The AfD was accused of taking one candidate off its party list because he refused to give the party a loan. Petry and Hütter gave differing accounts as to when Petry knew about the loans.

State prosecutors in Dresden made the application to lift Petry’s immunity after Left party lawmaker Andre Schollbach filed a criminal complaint against Petry.

Who is Frauke Petry?

The 42-year-old with a PhD in chemistry joined the AfD in 2013 and quickly rose to become its public face. She led the party, which originated as a euroskeptic movement, in a more populist direction with a strong focus on opposing the government’s welcoming stance toward refugees and other migrants.

But recently she has been caught up in infighting within the party, announcing she would not stand as its top candidate in Germany’s upcoming federal elections.

Read more: AfD’s Frauke Petry falls from favor ahead of Bundestag vote

What does the lifting of immunity mean for her and the AfD?

Being investigated for criminal charges could endanger Petry’s political future. Having the perjury allegations hanging over her, especially in the midst of Germany’s federal elections campaign, already appears to have damaged her standing within the AfD.

Though the party has stood by her until now, the AfD’s top candidate, Alexander Gaulandhas said that if a court allowed a prosecution to go ahead, they would have to rethink their position.

Read more: Who’s who – German political parties

The AfD is polling at roughly 9 percent, enough to clear the 5-percent hurdle to enter the Bundestag for the first time.

At the August 17 hearing of the parliamentary committee, Petry herself welcomed the lifting of her immunity, saying it would give her a chance to present her side of the story in public.

What punishment would Petry face if found guilty?

Perjury carries a sentence of at least a year in jail, or six months in minor cases.

se/kms  (dpa, AFP, Reuters, epd)

Germany: AfD and Frauke Petry

April 21, 2017

Frauke Petry, chairwoman of Germany’s right-wing populists, is a savvy politician. She demonstrated her cunning once again ahead of the AfD’s conference in Cologne this weekend, confronting the party with a crucial test.

Deutschland Pressekonferenz der AfD zu Medienordnung (picture-alliance/dpa/B. von Jutrczenka)

Politics is a game of chess. That much we know from the popular US version of the TV series “House of Cards.” When it comes to the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, life often mimics art. Germany’s right-wing populists have more than once since the party’s founding in 2013 ripped back the curtain to shed public light on many of their internal feuds. More political drama has come to the fore immediately ahead of this weekend’s party conference in Cologne.

There was internal speculation that Frauke Petry, one of AfD’s two national leaders, wanted to be alone at the top of the party’s ticket for Germany’s national elections in September. This was despite an internal survey showing party members’ preference for a team of candidates.

Deutschland Politischer Aschermittwoch der AfD in Osterhofen (picture-alliance/dpa/A. Weigel)The AfD is currently polling at between 8 and 11 percent nationally

Strategic decision out of deadlock?

Petry floated a “proposal for the future” that would move the party in a fundamentally different direction. She was criticized for creating a false choice between a party of realpolitik and one that takes a hardline position on its fundamental values at a time when the AfD needs to pull together for the campaign.

The co-chairwoman’s proposal attempts to kill two birds with one stone: Petry wants to rebrand the AfD as an electable people’s party for everyone. She also wants to take on her chief opponent: Björn Höcke, the hardline head of AfD in Thuringia. Petry already struck him hard by trying to oust him from the party for his alleged Nazi sympathies.

Deutschland Landeswahlversammlung der AfD Thüringen | Björn Höcke, Fraktionsvorsitzender (picture-alliance/Arifoto Ug/Candy Welz)Höcke is the embodiment of fundamental opposition

Michael Klonovsky, a former Petry staffer, recently spoke out publicly against her and her husband, Marcus Pretzell, head of AfD in North Rhine-Westphalia, saying they would doom the party.

Petry, sensing a lack of support ahead of the party conference, announced she would not run as lead candidate. It was a sudden and startling turn of events – for the party and the German media. In need of new leadership and direction, several state party leaders from around Germany have signaled their desire to step up.

The AfD would like to clarify the most looming questions on the first day of the party conference. What will become of Petry’s “proposal for the future” remains unclear: Some members would like to see it not even come to a vote. Her Facebook video statement on Wednesday was more open to compromise while also pushing strongly for a strategic decision, which could win her points among some of the conference’s 600 delegates.

AfD stellt ihr Wahlprogramm zur Bundestagswahl vor (picture-alliance/dpa/P. Zinken)AfD members will aim to finalize their party’s election platform in Cologne

Right-wing party platform?

One of the highest priorities for conference participants is to finalize the party platform. A draft was presented weeks ago: Swiss-like referenda, closing borders, deportation quotas, prioritizing German culture, a burqa ban and a requirement that Mosque sermons be delivered in German. The draft runs 200 pages.

The party conference has a rhythm all its own. Cologne expects as many as 50,000 anti-AfD protesters and 4,000 police officers are being called into service. Many businesses will also be closed.


German Muslims Fear More Radical AfD Without Petry in Election Race

April 20, 2017

BERLIN — Germany’s Central Council of Muslims said on Thursday that the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) was on a path to becoming a more radical, anti-Islamic party without co-chief Frauke Petry leading it into September’s national election.

Image result for Frauke Petry, photos


Petry had become the face of the anti-immigration party, which hurt Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives during the migrant crisis but has leaked support this year. After a months-long power struggle, she announced on Wednesday she would not lead the party’s national election campaign.

The shock move was widely seen as an admission of defeat, even though she stays on as the party’s joint leader. In a test of how much influence she still wields, Petry will this weekend try and push through a motion at a party congress aimed at making the AfD able to join coalitions in the future.

Her rivals, she has said, want the AfD to be a “fundamental opposition” party.

“While Petry was always ready to have a critical dialogue with the Central Council of Muslims, other forces in the party leadership completely refused,” said Aiman Mazyek, head of Germany’s Central Council of Muslims.

Mazyek told the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung daily the AfD was “soaking up” the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), which Germany’s Constitutional Court earlier this year said pursued Nazi ideals.

The AfD last year endorsed an election manifesto that says Islam is not compatible with Germany’s constitution. Mainstream parties have ruled out the AfD as a possible coalition partner.

Ahead of September’s federal election, Petry had sought to make the party more palatable to mainstream voters and her decision not to lead the party’s campaign could play into the hands of established parties.

Simone Peter, a leading member of the Green party, told the Rheinische Post newspaper that with Petry’s decision, the AfD was “skinning itself”.

“The party’s extreme right wing views … are coming increasingly to the fore,” Peter said.

Petry’s critics say it was she who was responsible for pulling the party to the right with incendiary rhetoric such as demanding police be allowed to shoot illegal migrants.

The energetic East German ousted party founder Bernd Lucke as leader in 2015. She swiftly embraced immigration as the party’s cause-celebre rather than euro-scepticism.

She soon made enemies within the party, though, who criticized her for a high-handed leadership style.

In the past six months, support from the party has fallen to between 8 and 11 percent in polls from about 13 percent.

Political commentator Albrecht von Lucke said the party’s congress this weekend in Cologne, where police are bracing for up to 50,000 anti-AfD demonstrators, would be a showdown between Petry and her party rivals.

“The crucial thing is whether the party dismembers itself on Sunday,” said von Lucke. He added that if Petry failed to pass her motion she would risk being a “queen without a country”.

“If she goes, then we’ll see whether the rest of the party can survive,” he said, adding the party may even jeopardize the 5 percent popular support needed to enter the lower house of parliament.

Petry’s co-leader, Joerg Meuthen, told Focus magazine he favored a group including Petry’s arch rival Alexander Gauland leading the party into the Sept. 24 vote.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; editing by Richard Lough)