In the three state elections in the east this year, the afd will have to reckon with a new competitor from within its own ranks: andre poggenburg, the former faction and party leader of the right-wing populists in saxony-anhalt.
He enters the elections in three eastern german states with his new grouping "aufbruch deutscher patrioten" (adp). The split also overshadowed the afd’s european election meeting in riesa, saxony, where the afd delegates had until monday to draw up a program for the european elections on 26 may. May want to decide and complete their list of candidates.
Poggenburg considers his adp’s entry into the state parliaments of saxony, thuringia and brandenburg to be realistic. The 43-year-old told the german press agency on friday that he and his colleagues were aware that any new formation or split-off would entail major risks. "But we assume that we will achieve the five percent hurdle in the east"."
Poggenburg had resigned from the party after days of secession rumors on thursday. On the same day, according to his own statements, he founded the adp with a good dozen comrades-in-arms from central germany. The long-serving leader of the afd in saxony-anhalt nevertheless considers it conceivable that his old and new parties will work together in the future. "We see ourselves as a complementary competitor to the afd, but not as its political opponent."
As a reason for the re-launch, he cited a "leftward shift" in the afd pushed by the afd’s federal executive committee, with the aim of avoiding observation by the federal office for the protection of the constitution. There are many dissatisfied afd members in the east who feel "gelled", poggenburg said. He himself had recently come under pressure from the federal leadership and his own state parliamentary group for blatant comments about "camel drivers" and the "german national community".
According to poggenburg, it remains to be seen whether afd members of parliament will also join his new project. "That’s not our focus, that would be at most a nice side effect," he said.
On 26. May elections to coincide with the european parliament elections in bremen. On 1. Saxony and brandenburg to follow on 27 september. New state parliament to be elected in thuringia in october.
At the start of the europe meeting in riesa, afd leaders called for a fundamental change in the eu. Party leader jorg meuthen said the afd wants to work on a "better european union". Saxony’s afd leader jorg urban declared: "i am optimistic that we will succeed in saving europe" – together with the italian lega, the austrian fpo and the party of hungarian head of government viktor orban (fidesz).
A vote on whether the possibility of a german exit from the EU ("dexit") should be included in the afd election program was expected over the weekend. Party and parliamentary group leader alexander gauland spoke out in principle against germany leaving the eu. A "dexit" is only the last option if all reform efforts in europe fail.
FDP politician alexander graf lambsdorff said the afd’s proposal of a "dexit" revealed "whose brainchild it is". Anyone who is still calling for a "dexit" even in the face of the brexit debacle clearly does not want a good future for germany – "he wants to plunge our country into chaos – and our continent.".
In his opening speech in riesa, meuthen condemned the attack on bremen afd politician frank magnitz, who had been the victim of a "cowardly and deceitful assassination attempt. Magnitz was pushed to the ground by a man in bremen on monday evening, according to security sources. He suffered a head injury. The afd had initially reported that the 66-year-old had been knocked unconscious with a piece of wood. "Whether with or without kanholz" it was an assassination, said meuthen.
Afd delegates in riesa also elected further candidates for the european parliament after allocating the first 13 places on the list in november. In 14th place, they voted for thorsten weib, who currently sits for the afd in berlin’s house of representatives. He belongs to the right wing of the party. Weib spoke out in favor of the "orbanization" of europe.
Meuthen is the party’s top candidate for the election at the end of may. He is the only afd member of the european parliament so far. For saturday, afd opponents from leipzig have arranged a demonstration in riesa.