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Espionage affair surrounding Krah: An AfD in distress is Wagenknecht’s chance

Espionage affair surrounding Krah: An AfD in distress is Wagenknecht’s chance

The spy affair involving Maximilian Krah is putting the party in trouble in several ways. Because in contrast to previous scandals that she survived, there is now a left-wing populist alternative.

The suspected spy, who worked closely with MEP Maximilian Krah, remains in custody. This was announced on Wednesday. Jian G. is said to have spied on the European Parliament and Chinese opposition members in Germany for China.

Also on Wednesday, the affair, which has a long history, had consequences for Krah for the first time. Ironically, the EU’s top candidate will not take part in his party’s EU election campaign launch in Donaueschingen on Saturday. Formally he remains the top candidate, but he should disappear into the background. This is what the party leaders Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla ordered.

This isn’t just embarrassing for Krah. It is an embarrassment for the party that likes to sell itself as a clean “alternative” to a “system” of “cartel parties” that is defamed as corrupt – and at whose rallies calls for “traitor” are heard in the direction of those in power. The question, which has long since been asked by more than just political competitors, comes to mind: Don’t some AfD politicians seem more like venal, even like traitors?

Party leadership distances itself from Krah

The suspicions are so strong and diverse that even Weidel and Chrupalla could no longer ignore them. After a crisis meeting with Krah, they described the espionage allegations as “serious”: “Any influence by foreign states through espionage, but also attempts to buy opinions and positions, must be investigated and strictly stopped.”

That sounded different to the usual victim chants about instrumentalized media and a politically controlled justice system. Rather, it seemed that the party leadership simply no longer trusted the ritualistic excuses of its top candidate and suddenly panicked and sought distance.

In the summer of 2023, when Krah was voted first, not only the China connection but also his particularly close proximity to the aggressor Russia had long been known. Everyone also knew that Petr Bystron, who came in second, spread the Kremlin’s propaganda in a particularly unfiltered manner.

Alice Weidel, Maximilian Krah, Tino Chrupalla (from left) at a press conference on the sidelines of the AfD European election meeting in Magdeburg in the summer of 2023.

Nevertheless, with the approval of Weidel and Chrupalla, the two made it to the top. Because they were representative of the increasingly authoritarian and extremist sound of a party that believed itself to be on the straight path to power – and believed itself to be invulnerable.

According to the content, the AfD had also copied Donald Trump’s strategy: it aggressively fended off any suspicion and instead used it to mobilize its own base. How this works can be seen in the trial against Björn Höcke, the Thuringian AfD leader.

But one key difference compared to the USA is that there is now an alternative to the alleged alternative. Parallel to the AfD’s crisis talks, Sahra Wagenknecht presented her party’s EU election campaign in Berlin on Wednesday. It focuses on issues that have long been played exclusively by the AfD in a populist manner, from the rejection of arms deliveries to Ukraine, the fight against the alleged restrictions on freedom of expression to the limitation of migration.

Now things are getting really serious

The danger posed by the Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW) had been foreseeable for the AfD for some time. Their weakness in the polls since the beginning of the year has not only had to do with the large demonstrations against right-wing extremism, but above all with the new left-wing national competition.

Now things are getting really serious. While the AfD is likely to win in the local elections, especially in eastern Germany, the European elections could turn out to be sobering. The same applies to the state parliaments of Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg, which will be elected in September: an absolute majority of seats for the AfD, which seemed at least possible months ago, is virtually impossible after the emergence of the BSW. It is now even questionable whether a blocking minority of a good third of the seats will be enough.

In this situation, the allegations of the AfD, which has so far survived every scandal without major injuries, could do significant damage for the first time. There is also a threat of a new power struggle: the hardliners in the party are already taking a front internally against the disciplining of Krah. Just like Meuthen, Weidel and even Chrupalla have now given in to the establishment, according to the relevant networks.

When Wagenknecht introduced the BSW candidates for the European Parliament in a Berlin hotel on Wednesday, she said that they were sending “serious” people to Brussels who were “not for sale or bribery.” “That’s a difference to some other parties.”

It can be assumed that Wagenknecht will repeat these sentences at every election campaign event from now on. In addition, she doesn’t have to hide her top candidates Fabio di Masi and Thomas Geisel: they stood next to her on stage.

Source: Stern

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