‘Costing us votes’: Head of Germany’s far-right AfD urges split with radical wing

Germany's far-right AfD party is considering a split with its radical Flügel faction to create two separate parties, according to party co-leader Jörg Meuthen.

'Costing us votes': Head of Germany's far-right AfD urges split with radical wing
A Flügel supporter at one of the group's gatherings in Burgscheidungen, Saxony-Anhalt in June 2018. Photo: DPA

Separate parties could probably reach more voters than the “current…conflict-prone constellation”, Meuthen told the Tichys Einblick news magazine in an interview published Wednesday.

“Everyone knows that Flügel and its key exponents are costing us a massive amount of votes in the conservative camp,” he said.

Flügel (Wing), which has about 7,000 members, was co-founded by notorious AfD lawmaker Björn Höcke, who has sparked outrage with attacks on Germany's culture of remembrance for Nazi crimes.

The AfD said in March that it was planning to dissolve the radical group after it was placed under formal surveillance by Germany's domestic intelligence agency.

READ ALSO: Germany surveils far-right 'Flügel' faction as fight against extremism stepped up


Intelligence officials said Flügel violated “characteristic features of the free democratic basic order, human dignity, democracy and the rule of law”.

Founded in 2013 as a protest party against the euro single currency, the AfD has since grown and shifted further right, scooping up a significant number of votes from those unhappy with the government's migration policy.

It is now the largest opposition group in the Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament.

But the party has also come under fire for fuelling anti-immigration sentiment amid several right-wing extremist attacks in Germany in recent months.

Support for the AfD has also dwindled with the spread of the coronavirus, with voters lurching towards Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.

An opinion poll in late March showed the party on nine percent, two points down from the previous week and almost four down on its 2017 federal election performance.

READ ALSO: 'Merkel is back': Coronavirus crisis boosts German chancellor

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New army scandal: Germany vows to punish soldiers caught singing anti-Semitic songs

Germany's Defence Minister on Tuesday vowed to severely punish soldiers stationed in Lithuania who were accused of singing racist and anti-Semitic songs, if the allegations turned out to be true.

New army scandal: Germany vows to punish soldiers caught singing anti-Semitic songs
German soldiers training in Saxony-Anhalt in May. credit: dpa-Zentralbild | Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert

“Whatever happened is in no way acceptable,” said Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

Those implicated would be “vigorously prosecuted and punished”, she added.

The Spiegel Online news site had on Monday reported that German soldiers in Lithuania sang racist and anti-Semitic songs during a party at a hotel in April.

One had also sought to sexually assault another soldier while he was asleep, a scene which was caught on film, said Spiegel.

According to Spiegel Online, the scenes took place at a party at which soldiers consumed large quantities of alcohol. They are also alleged to have arranged a “birthday table” for Adolf Hitler on April 20th and to have sung songs for him.

It is unclear to what extent more senior ranked soldiers were aware of the incidents.

Three soldiers have been removed from the contingent stationed in the Baltic country and an investigation is ongoing to identify other suspects, said the report.

The German armed forces have been repeatedly rocked by allegations of right-wing extremism within their ranks.

Kramp-Karrenbauer last year ordered the partial dissolution of the KSK commando force after revelations that some of its members harboured neo-Nazi sympathies.

SEE ALSO: Germany to compensate gay soldiers who faced discrimination