MIn two percentage points – the state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia are the 10th consecutive elections in which the AfD has had to complain about losses. With just 0.4 points above the five percent barrier, the right has just returned to the state parliament in the most populous federal state. The party’s crisis worsens a week after it was expelled from the Schleswig-Holstein state parliament.
Now an open struggle for power has broken out in the AfD. Top officials in the camp, moderate by AfD standards, specifically targeted Tino Shrupala on Monday, as the leader of the Bundestag’s parliamentary group and currently the party’s sole leader, by far the most important man in the AfD.
Bundestag Joanna Kotar, a member of the Federal Executive Council, said that the AfD’s success story ended with Cherupala. It does not reflect the whole party and does not convince the voters. That’s why he can’t run again as a federal speaker.”
Alexander Wolff, who is also a member of the Federal Executive Council and vice-chairman of the AfD in Hamburg and the local parliamentary group, identified a “very high understanding of Russia’s position in the Ukraine war” as a factor for the missing votes. “Create peace without weapons” is the slogan of the Church Conference, not the position of the AfD. This session presented by Tino Chrupala is a mistake that almost cost the AfD another parliamentary group.”
The head of the Alternative for Germany party in Thuringia, Bjorn Höck, recently published the slogan adapted from the peace movement. Shrupala also recently attempted to label the AfD a “peace party”, as stated in the WELT circular to members since the beginning of May.
One member of parliament, who asked not to be named, said Chrupala’s way of expressing his positions on the war was “extremely destructive”.
So it makes a big difference whether you justify the rejection of sanctions against Russia with an understanding of Russia’s security interests or with dire consequences for the German economy. “We also frighten the patriotic voters who defend the sovereignty and integrity of the state,” the MP said.
Federal Board Member Wolff shares this criticism. “We should get more involved in the Ukrainian people’s struggle for freedom, it will be patriotic and meaningful,” he said. “We also lost votes because some of the AfD’s positions can be understood in a way that brings us very close to Putin.” However, middle-class circles often positioned themselves on the side of the invaded Ukraine and saw their support as necessary.
The ‘offensive West’ aims to counteract the impression left by the East Party
Now, the less radical parts of the party worry that the AfD will wither away and turn into a regional party in East Germany. Berlin state and faction leader Kristen Brinker said: “Elections do not win at the margins. If the AfD wants to help shape politics, it must be more firmly rooted in West German society.” Fellow parliamentarian Frank Christian Hansel calls for the AfD Returning to its roots and immediately embarking on a credible “offensive West” with nationwide persuasion. Chrupala contributed significantly to the fact that many voters in the West see only the AfD (the Alternative for Germany) as an eastern party.
Cotter had already called for such an “offensive West” after the losing state elections in Schleswig-Holstein. Shrupala now accepts the proposal of his critics and announces the “West Initiative” and appoints the “Commissioner of the West”. The target should also be two-digit results in West Germany. It takes a clear path and shows unity outwardly.
Should the regional associations in West Germany learn from East Germany how to do it better? On Monday, Chrupala remained vague about exactly what he intends to do with his initiative. In any case, it’s not about “looking west with a raised index finger,” he said.
His ad there was not well received. Michael Frisch, leader of the parliamentary and state group in the Rhineland-Palatinate, is clear: “The idea of the Western commissioner exposes a complete miscalculation of the situation by the federal spokesperson,” he told WELT. “We do not need advice on what the party can do better in the West, but finally an open and lasting discussion about the AfD’s strategy for the future.”
The main reasons for the poor election results are the “increasingly worn image of the AfD” as well as “excessive closeness to Putin by parts of the party” and Björn Höck’s announced candidacy for the Federal Executive Committee shortly before the election.
The AfD must “urgently move away from the reputation of the angry citizens and the anti-everything party”, which constantly acts like foam in the mouth, says Frisch. “Any objective, verbal or personal extremism of the AfD would be counterproductive and lead the party to political irrelevance in the long run.”
In a proposal submitted to WELT by Frisch and other members of the AfD congress on May 20 and 21 in Pirmacense, it stated: “The fundamental opposition, such as that which parts of the party strive for, would lead to a social ghetto.” And it deprives us of any long-term design choices that deprive us.”
Is Höcke running for the federal presidency?
Hook had announced again his possible candidacy for the leadership of the party at the end of last week. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that Thuringia could even run for the federal presidency if the party congress decided to bid farewell to the dual leadership.
Strategically, this would be a wise move: a two-thirds majority is required for such a change in laws. Thus, Hook was able to test the majority at the beginning of the party convention. If the party prefers one leader, it will know it already has a chance.
Höcke represents far-right positions and is also controversial within the AfD. There, some even suspect that he deliberately wanted to harm election activists in West Germany with his announcement in order to strengthen his position. Criticism also comes from the Federal Executive Board: “In election campaigns in West Germany, Bjorn Hockey is not a positive and popular figure, but he attracts and deters a lot of voters,” says Hamburger Wolf.
Party leader Chrupala criticized the multiple votes on Monday and called for more discipline in the Federal Executive Council. Its members must go along with the situation decided by the majority and “keep another opinion to themselves”.
Shrupala believes that the new Federal Executive Committee, which will be elected at the Federal Party Congress in Risa in mid-June, should be hierarchically formed. He himself can point out his successes: in the federal elections, the AfD achieved the strongest result in Saxony, where Shrupala was the frontrunner. As a direct candidate, Shrupala was the voting king for the AfD nationally.
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