Hours after far-right AfD election success, co-leader bolts its Bundestag group
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Hours after far-right AfD election success, co-leader bolts its Bundestag group

Frauke Petry walks out of press conference with other party heads after criticizing top members’ hardline rhetoric

AfD co-leader Frauke Petry leaves a press conference for the nationalist party on September 25, 2017, in Berlin, where she said she refused to join the AfD parliamentary group. (AFP Photo/John Macdougall)
AfD co-leader Frauke Petry leaves a press conference for the nationalist party on September 25, 2017, in Berlin, where she said she refused to join the AfD parliamentary group. (AFP Photo/John Macdougall)

BERLIN — The nationalist Alternative for Germany was hit by party infighting on Monday just hours after winning its first ever seats in parliament, with its co-chief Frauke Petry declaring that she won’t join its Bundestag group.

“I decided after careful reflection that I will not sit with the (AfD) parliamentary group” in the Bundestag, Petry told a press conference alongside other key figures in the party before abruptly leaving the room.

Petry, who has long been locked in a dispute with more hardline AfD colleagues, won a seat in Sunday’s election and said she would still serve as an MP.

Her decision caught her colleagues by surprise at the press conference, and came a day after the AfD made history by sending dozens of lawmakers to parliament — a first since World War II for an openly anti-immigration and anti-Muslim party.

Petry pointed to “dissent” within the party, and said there was no point hiding that.

Joerg Meuthen (R), co-leader of Germany’s nationalist Alternative for Germany party, sits next to the empty seat of AfD co-leader Frauke Petry during a press conference in Berlin on September 25, 2017. (AFP Photo/Tobias Schwarz)

She had openly criticized one of the party’s two leading candidates, Alexander Gauland, for saying that the AfD would “go after” Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government.

“That is rhetoric that I think… would not be seen as constructive by voters,” she told public broadcaster ZDF.

During the campaign, she also said Gauland’s claim that Germany should be proud of its World War I and II soldiers would cause voters to shun the party.

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