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Deep divisions in the German far right

The congresses of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party are often tumultuous. The one that took place on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 November in Kalkar (North Rhine-Westphalia) was particularly so. While some hoped that it would be the occasion for a reconciliation – at least of facade – between “moderates” and “radicals”, the two camps, on the contrary, preferred to display their divisions, giving the image of a party in tatters on the eve of a year 2021 which will be marked by six regional elections and especially by legislative elections all the more expected as they will mark the end of the sixteen years of Angela Merkel’s reign.

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It all started on Saturday when the President of the AfD, Jörg Meuthen, took the podium to condemn the “Provocateurs” who, in the party, create a climate “Always more aggressive, always more brutal and always more uninhibited”. Comparing them to “Teenagers going through puberty looking to play super guys”, he attacked those who, in recent weeks, accused the government of setting up a “Corona-dictatorship”, going so far as to compare the new law of protection against infections, adopted on November 18, with that which gave full powers to Hitler in March 1933. “Either we get our act together, or the whole party is going to be dragged into a very rough sea, at the risk of failing collectively”, warned Jörg Meuthen, drawing more boos than applause from the 540 delegates present.

“His time is over”

The counterattack to this surprisingly muscular speech from a speaker usually quite transparent came on Sunday morning when a member of the radical wing of the AfD put to the vote a “motion of no confidence” against the president. party. For more than two particularly agitated hours, his opponents then took turns at the microphone to reproach him for his ” arrogance “, accuse him of “Playing the game of the old parties”, or even to simply mean that “His time at the AfD is over”, as the Thuringian MP Jürgen Pohl put it to him.

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The motion of no confidence was ultimately not adopted, but it still collected 47% of the vote, which says a lot about the depth of the divisions that cross the AfD, even though the party was shaken by several serious crises in recent months: exclusion of Andreas Kalbitz, the leader of the Brandenburg federation, accused of having concealed his past membership of a neo-Nazi organization; broadcast of a television documentary in which the former spokesperson for the parliamentary group – filmed with a hidden camera – evokes the possibility of “gassing” migrants; cascading resignations and exclusions threatening the survival of AfD groups in regional assemblies of several Länder; threat of “surveillance” of the party as a whole by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the service responsible for internal intelligence in Germany, which has already forced the current of ultra-radical leader Björn Höcke to dissolve , “The Wing”, accused of “Seek to undermine the foundations of the democratic rule of law”.

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