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Essen: AfD party conference: oaths of loyalty and jokes about deportations

Essen: AfD party conference: oaths of loyalty and jokes about deportations
Essen: AfD party conference: oaths of loyalty and jokes about deportations

The AfD is holding its party conference without any major surprises or trench warfare – to the satisfaction of the chairmen. They are hoping that the sun will rise for the AfD in the state elections in the east.

Nine weeks before the state elections in Saxony and Thuringia, the AfD presented a relatively united front at its party conference in Essen. After the surprisingly quick re-election of the 14-member party executive committee with the confirmation of the leaders Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla in office, the delegates also avoided the most controversial issues on the second day of the meeting. There were no more massive counter-demonstrations around the Grugahalle like at the start of the party conference. In rainy Essen, it remained quiet on Sunday.

The Thuringian state chairman, Björn Höcke, who often spoke out at previous federal party conferences, is holding back this time. On Sunday afternoon he will take the podium for the first time to propose a candidate for the Federal Arbitration Court. “Have a wonderful day in the Grugahalle,” he says. Polite applause. The lawyer he proposes, who says she works for the AfD parliamentary group in the Bundestag, asks: “Is this still the constitutional state that we know from the Basic Law?” In the end she narrowly loses. A lawyer from Halle an der Saale, who, in reference to the slogan “Saxony-Anhalt – Land of Early Risers,” says that she comes from Saxony-Anhalt, the “Land of Early Deporters,” not only gets laughs, but is also elected to the Federal Arbitration Court.

Chrupalla overtakes Weidel

Looking back: Saturday was unusually harmonious for the AfD. Chrupalla proposed his “beloved” co-chair as a candidate. Weidel took up the ball and announced that she wanted to start planning the federal election campaign together “with my beloved Tino”. Both were re-elected without opposition: Weidel with almost 80 percent, Chrupalla even overtook her with almost 83 percent – not counting the abstentions. How long the pair’s oath of loyalty will last will probably only become clear next spring. That’s when the party wants to decide on a possible candidate for chancellor.

The remaining twelve board positions are also quickly voted through. Often only one candidate runs. In the end, five positions are filled. Weidel is now the only woman in the AfD leadership committee.

Weidel attacks traffic lights

At the lectern, the co-leader lashes out at the traffic light coalition: “Dear government, get out of here at last, clear the way for new elections.” Germany has “degenerated into a pony farm.” The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution is monitoring the AfD as a suspected right-wing extremist case – an assessment that the Higher Administrative Court in Münster confirmed in May. Weidel complains: “The Office for the Protection of the Constitution has itself become an enemy of the constitution, and it should be abolished in this form.” She receives loud applause for her statement that it is in the interests of Germany and Europe “that Ukraine does not belong to the European Union and to Europe.”

No “melonization” – “the sun will rise” in the East

“We don’t want melonization,” Chrupalla calls out to the hall – with a view to the right-wing Italian head of government Giorgia Meloni and her support for Ukraine. The co-leader is focusing on the state elections in Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg in September, where the AfD is in first place in polls: “In the East, the sun of government responsibility must rise for us.” However, no party wants to work with her, which makes governing difficult. In his speech, Chrupalla emphasizes successes and highlights the membership development. According to him, the AfD now has 46,881 members, 17,723 more than at the beginning of 2023.

Criticism after failed European election campaign

However, the AfD suffered a setback in the European elections on June 9, and this is also the subject of the party conference. Although it gained 15.9 percent compared to 2019, it fell short of its own expectations. Reports about the Potsdam meeting of radical right-wingers on so-called remigration, the new competition from the Sahra Wagenknecht (BSW) alliance and the allegations against its top candidate, Maximilian Krah, who had made headlines for weeks because of alleged connections to Russia and China, among other things, are likely to have hurt the party. The second on the AfD’s European election list, Petr Bystron, was searched on suspicion of bribery and money laundering.

Krah on the bench

There was later criticism from Krah supporters, who would have liked more support for the Saxon from the party leadership. Krah had been banned from appearing and was excluded from the AfD delegates’ circle after the election. Weidel used a football metaphor in Essen: a coaching team can be forced to make tactical substitutions. Talented players can also make mistakes. If someone has to go to the bench, he is not thrown out of the squad. Looking back on the European elections, Chrupalla calls for more professionalism. “We could have got 20 percent,” he says, and demands: “We have to look at our candidates more closely in the future.”

Massive counter demonstrations and injuries

Throughout the weekend, there are protests in Essen against the AfD party conference, some of them massive. On Saturday, there are tens of thousands of people. There are peaceful rallies, but also blockades, disruptive actions and violence. Thousands of police officers are deployed. Some AfD delegates are escorted to the Grugahalle. According to the police, 28 officers are injured, one of them seriously. The police also say they use batons and tear gas. Demonstrators are also injured. On Sunday, it remains quiet. According to a dpa reporter, around 150 people take part in a vigil organized by the “Essen stands up” alliance within sight of the Grugahalle in the morning.

Source: Stern

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