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Germany's risวี เอ ส ทีing far right targets further gains

China's electric vehicles a larg | วี เอ ส ที | Updated: 2024-07-24 04:05:47

Germany's Alternative for Germany (AfD) party co-leader Alice Weidel speaks at a party convention in Essen, Germany, June 30, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

Leaders of Germany's far-right political party Alternative for Germany, or AFD, told delegates at its convention on Saturday that membership has risen by 60 percent since the start of last year, and it is "here and we are here to stay" following its recent success in the European Parliament elections.

Despite widespread protests against the party and a number of damaging scandals, the AFD claimed the second highest share of the votes in Germany at the European elections, with its 15.9-percent putting it above Chancellor Olaf Scholz's governing three-party coalition.

Opinion polls suggest that the AFD is on course to win upcoming elections in Thuringia, Saxony and Brandenburg, all of which are in its traditional heartland in the east of the country, in the fall. 

If it does, there could be problems as other parties have a long-standing "firewall" policy of refusing to enter into coalitions with it.  

Although AFD membership numbers are still way below those of the more established parties, its co-chief Tino Chrupalla told convention delegates in the city of Essen that 22,000 additional members had joined since January 2023, while 4,000 had left.

"Despite all the harassment you have to endure as a member of the AFD, this is an absolutely sensational figure," he said, with his co-chief Alice Weidel adding "We will not be intimidated".  

Local authorities in Essen had made a legal challenge to the convention being hosted there, but lost, and the event was marked by angry scenes outside the convention building.

Some AFD delegates claimed that they had to have police escorts to enter the building, with sit-ins and blockades taking place in adjoining streets.

The Euronews website reported that police resorted to using pepper spray and batons to resist protestors trying to force their way towards the building, and several people were arrested after masked demonstrators attacked officers.  

"What is going on out there has nothing to do with democracy," Weidel said as the session began.  

In August 2023, the AFD won its first mayoral post, in the municipality of Raguhn-Jessnitz in Saxony-Anhalt, two months after it won its first vote for the head of a district administration, in the Sonneberg region of Thuringia.

In December, it had another win, again in a region that was part of the former German Democratic Republic, when a candidate who was not an AFD member but who had its backing won a second-round vote to become mayor, again in Saxony.

The recent European parliamentary success has kept this momentum going, and inspired Chrupalla to say "We have real problems in this country which need to be resolved, instead of insulting us. It doesn't work with voters."


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