The AfD is breaking up: arguments instead of politics

In many federal states, the AfD is currently falling out. It’s about the direction of the party, but also about power issues. Five examples.

The AfD is in the process of dismantling itself Photo: Ralph Peters / imago

The AfD is deeply divided not only at the federal level, also in many federal states – especially in the west of the republic – it does not look better. The next parliamentary group broke on Friday, this time in the Kiel state parliament. Elsewhere, state chairmen are overthrown, former top candidates are sent into the desert or closed meetings are broken off because they cannot stand it together. Opposition in the state parliament, for which the party was elected, becomes a minor matter. The AfD is primarily concerned with itself.

Schleswig-Holstein: parliamentary group status lost

For months, the AfD in Schleswig-Holstein has been deeply divided – right into the parliamentary group. The announcement by MP Frank Brodehl that he would leave the parliamentary group came as a surprise. On Friday, during the debate on all-day schools in the Kiel state parliament, he said that this would be his last speech as a member of the AfD and its parliamentary group. With this, the AfD MPs around Jörg Nobis are now losing the parliamentary group statute.

Brodehl cited the shift to the right by the regional association as the reason. “The völkisch-nationalist forces have increased, while the bourgeois-value conservative members leave the party,” he said world. The dispute over the direction is also a reason why the regional association has not yet found a new regional chairman after Doris von Sayn-Wittgenstein was kicked out because of right-wing extremist contacts and even in the Holocaust denier milieu. Andreas Speit

Hessen: The top candidate should go

Voting motions, party exclusion procedures and mutual denigration are part of everyday life for the AfD in Hesse as well. But the latest quarrels in the Wiesbaden state parliamentary group represent a new high point. On October 20, the AfD state parliament members want to vote on the exclusion of two colleagues.

The majority would like to exclude key figures of the last successful state election campaign for the party from the parliamentary group: the doctorate Frankfurt dentist Rainer Rahn, who led the state list as the top candidate in 2018, and the retired teacher Rolf Kahnt, who will open the legislative period as age president after the election could.

It is not substantive reasons that are asserted. After all, in February after the racially motivated murders in Hanau, Rainer Rahn triggered general outrage when he called shisha bars “disturbing”. Such derailments are not used against him and his colleagues. In embarrassing lists of “parliamentary group misconduct”, the two are more likely to have missed meetings, submitted parliamentary questions unauthorized and failed to adhere to guidelines when voting. Apparently, it was also noted when colleagues tried to talk to the competition.

Confronted with the internal allegations, Rahn felt reminded of Stasi methods. The expulsion of two MPs costs the party money and influence, but the majority is considered certain.

Christoph Schmidt-Lunau

Lower Saxony: The faction is falling apart

The reactions to the withdrawal of her boss from the Lower Saxony AfD parliamentary group came quickly. Dana Guth’s expulsion from the party is demanded from the federal to the new state leadership. Because Guth and two colleagues left the parliamentary group last week, the AfD lost its parliamentary group status. That means fewer parliamentary rights and less money – around 100,000 euros a month.

Alexander Gauland, parliamentary group leader in the Bundestag and honorary chairman of the party, criticized the fact that with the “senseless demolition of the parliamentary group” the AfD had become “virtually incapable of parliamentary action in an important federal state” – he also called for Guth’s exclusion. The new state chairman Jens Kestner made a similar statement about his predecessor. In a fight vote, Kestner, who belonged to the officially disbanded “wing”, prevailed against Guth, a supporter of party leader Jörg Meuthen, two weeks ago.

There was already speculation at the party congress about the exit of the three from the parliamentary group. Guth had initially stated, however, that he wanted to remain at the top of the group. But it was also controversial in the parliamentary group, allegedly it did not develop enough political profile.

Disputes over direction have dominated since the Lower Saxony AfD was founded. This is one of the reasons why the party moved into the state parliament with only 6.2 percent of the vote and nine members of the state parliament in the 2017 state election. On Wednesday, the AfD federal board wants to discuss a party regulation process. Andreas Speit

Bavaria: A parliamentary group is blocking itself

Sometimes it may be useful for peace when quarreling opponents go to a retreat together in order to really speak out in isolation. Not so the week before last in the Bavarian AfD parliamentary group. The closed meeting once again opened up the deep rift that runs through the parliamentary group in front of the public. Instead of settling their disputes, the MPs split up prematurely – a scandal.

The background to this is the dispute that has been going on for months between the parliamentary group’s executive committee around Katrin Ebner-Steiner and Ingo Hahn on the one hand and the parliamentary majority on the other. After two MPs left the parliamentary group in the first few months of the legislature, it now consists of only 20 MPs, of which only eight are behind the board.

The right-wing Ebner-Steiner, who was a supporter of the “wing” around Thuringian party friend Björn Höcke until its official dissolution, had survived a vote of no confidence with her co-boss Hahn in May only because a two-thirds majority would vote out of the board requirement. However, their twelve opponents were missing two votes.

It is not so easy to determine what divides the two groups in the first place. To just divide them into “extremes” and “moderate” would be too easy. Rather, many internal and personal motives are likely to play a role. Many of their opponents have not forgiven Ebner-Steiner from Lower Bavaria for publishing private emails from colleagues last year. In surveys, the divided group of factions is currently only between 6 and 7 percent. In the Bavarian state elections, the AfD received 10.2 percent of the vote. Dominik Baur

Baden-Wuerttemberg: power struggle of the federal leadership

Baden-Württemberg seems to be the battlefield on which the power struggle between the party leader and the Bundestag parliamentary group chairman is being fought. Jörg Meuthen and Alice Weidel have been wrestling for supremacy in the federal party for a long time, and the state association is now looking for places on the list for the federal election. Meuthen, former head of the state and parliamentary group in the Stuttgart state parliament and currently a member of the European Parliament, apparently has ambitions on the first list, but Weidel also wants that.

In spring, she was elected as the new state chairman with only 54 percent of the votes. She had beaten the Bundestag member Dirk Spaniel, a supporter of the right-wing extremist “wing”, out of the field. Meuthen, on the other hand, has the problem that his own district association did not want to set him up as a delegate for the federal party congress.

In the summer, the dispute over a party exclusion procedure against Dubravko Mandic, who had disparaged Meuthen on Facebook with a coffin display, and perhaps even threatened it, escalated. When Meuthen asked the regional association about the status of the proceedings, the latter refused to give him any information. Meuthen accused Weidel’s board of postponing a decision until the state list was drawn up. Because Weidel is dependent on the voices of the “wing”. Its influence has rather grown in the Southwest Regional Association. After moderate MPs left, the wing people also have the say in the parliamentary group.

The list of Mandic’s lapses would suffice for several exclusion proceedings in normal parties: It ranges from assaults established by a court to the maintenance of Nazi songs to racist remarks against Barack Obama.

In an expert report, which Meuthen believes held back Weidel, it is said that Mandic was a danger to the party. In the meantime, the regional association has agreed on a lukewarm compromise: The Freiburg city councilor Mandic is allowed to remain in the party, but not hold any offices. Benno Stieber


AfD in Schleswig-Holstein: Right parliamentary group breaks up

The MP Frank Brodehl leaves his party in Schleswig-Holstein because national forces have increased. The party loses its parliamentary group status.

Leaving the AfD: the Schleswig-Holstein state parliament member Frank Brodehl Photo: Carsten Rehder / dpa

KIEL / BERLIN dpa / taz | The Schleswig-Holstein member of the state parliament, Frank Brodehl, leaves the AfD, which means that it loses its group status in the Kiel parliament. Brodehl announced the move surprisingly on Friday in a debate about the offers in all-day schools. This was his last speech as a member of the Afd and the parliamentary group, said Brodehl in a personal statement at the end of his contribution to the debate.

Compared to the world Brodehl justified his exit from the party and parliamentary group explicitly with the developments in the Schleswig-Holstein state association. “The völkisch-nationalistic forces have increased, while the bourgeois-conservative members are leaving the party,” said Brodehl. Because he considers the development in Schleswig-Holstein to be “irreversible”, he is now leaving the AfD.

With Brodehl’s move out, the AfD loses its parliamentary group status, for which four members are the minimum number. “This means that the parliamentary group has to dissolve,” said a state parliament spokeswoman on Friday. For the AfD MPs, this also means the loss of privileges associated with the parliamentary group status, such as additional resources for staff and a seat on the parliament’s council of elders.

With the loss of parliamentary group status in Schleswig-Holstein, the AfD’s loss of importance in the federal states continues. Only a few days ago, the AfD in Lower Saxony lost its parliamentary group status after three MPs had declared their exit from the parliamentary group. In Bremen there has been no AfD parliamentary group for a good year after the parliamentarians fell out and divided them into two groups.

Trial against Sayn-Wittgenstein

In Schleswig-Holstein, the AfD parliamentary group, which initially had five members after the 2017 state elections, excluded its MP Doris von Sayn-Wittgenstein in December 2018. She is said to have maintained connections to a right-wing extremist association that was co-founded by a Holocaust denier. This was also followed in December 2018 by the exclusion from the AfD, which the Federal Arbitration Court finally confirmed at the end of August 2019. In the first instance, the dismissal was rejected by the regional arbitration court in May 2019.

Sayn-Wittgenstein was elected AfD state chairwoman in 2017. Despite the current party expulsion process, she was re-elected to this office in June 2019. She lost it two months later when she was expelled. Sayn-Wittgenstein is still a member of the state parliament, but without any party or affiliation.

The remaining four-member AfD parliamentary group under its chairman Jörg Nobis was said to have a very tense relationship with the AfD state executive, in which Sayn-Wittgenstein is said to still have followers. The successor to Sayn-Wittgensteins as AfD country chief is still open today.