AfD leader Petry considers walking away from politics

Frauke Petry has become the face of a growing far-right movement in Germany. But only months before a national election, she is considering quitting.

AfD leader Petry considers walking away from politics
Frauke Petry. Photo: DPA

“Neither politics nor the AfD are things that I can’t do without,” Petry, who is co-leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) told Tagesspiegel on Thursday.

Petry told the paper that it makes sense from time to time to consider “re-calibrating” one’s life.

“That’s the way I see it now after more than four years with the AfD, a time which has demanded an enormous amount of energy and has made me say goodbye to a normal life.”

The AfD was founded as an anti-Euro party in 2013, but lurched to the right two years later, taking a staunchly anti-immigration stance during the refugee crisis of 2015.

Public fear of the adverse effects of the refugee influx, triggered by mass sexual assaults over New Year in Cologne, led to a sharp increase in the AfD’s popularity.

The party gained seats in five state parliaments in 2016, most astonishingly gaining roughly a quarter of the votes in the former eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt.

But the party has also been riven by several internal conflicts, while it has rarely been out of the news due to comments by party leaders seen by many as racist or homophobic.

Most recently Björn Höcke, leader of the party in the state of Thuringia, gave a speech criticizing how Germany remembers the Holocaust, saying that in schools “German history – is made into something rotten and ridiculous.”

The speech led Josef Schuster, chair of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, to respond that “the AfD have shown their true face with these anti-Semitic and extremely inhumane words.”

The controversy led to a feud between Petry and co-leader Jörg Meuthen. While Petry sought to have Höcke expelled from the party, Meuthen has stuck by him.

Plummeting polling figures and a disappointing result in a state election in Saarland this month have also led some analysts to predict the complete demise of the party.

The feuding party leadership has still failed to pick a candidate to lead it into September’s election. Petry has sought to lead the party alone, but other members of the leadership opposed to her want a “team of leaders” for the campaign.

Speaking of internal fights, Petry told Tagesspiegel that one cannot take attacks in politics personally, “otherwise you won’t last long.”

But she conceded that conflicts did have an impact on every politician, admitting that “to say anything else would be a lie.”


Germany’s Schröder to remain in Social Democrats despite Putin ties

Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will remain a member of the ruling Social Democrats (SPD), the party said Monday, finding his ties with Vladimir Putin did not breach its rules.

Germany's Schröder to remain in Social Democrats despite Putin ties

The SPD’s Hanover branch said Schröder, whose party membership falls under its umbrella, was “not guilty of a violation of the party rules, as no violation can be proven against him”.

The branch had opened a hearing in July to discuss 17 motions from local and regional chapters against Schroeder’s ongoing membership of the party.

The decision can be appealed, but legal experts say there are high hurdles for expelling members.

Schröder, chancellor from 1998 to 2005, has refused to turn his back on Putin despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

His stance has made him an embarrassment to the SPD, which is also the party of Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

READ ALSO: Germany’s Social Democrats move to dispel Schröder over Putin ties

He has also been widely criticised for holding a number of lucrative posts at Russian energy giants, and it was only after much public pressure that Schröder in May gave up his seat on the board of Russian energy group Rosneft.

He later also announced he would not be joining Gazprom’s supervisory board as initially planned.

Germany’s parliament in May removed some of the perks Schröder was entitled to as an elder statesman, stripping him of an office and staff.

Schröder, 78, who was Angela Merkel’s immediate predecessor, has remained defiant and met with Putin in Moscow in July.

In an interview after the visit, he claimed Russia wanted a “negotiated solution” to the war – comments branded as “disgusting” by Ukrainian
President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Schröder has also called on Berlin to reconsider its position on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which stands completed but was blocked by the German government in the run-up to the invasion of Ukraine.