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Germany’s far-right AfD elects 2 new leaders after co-chair quits, citing extremism

Joerg Meuthen was 3rd leader to leave the party, warning of its increasingly radical ideology; delegates approve extreme-right proposal that will allow a single leader in future

Newly elected leaders of Germany's Alternative for Germany (AfD) party Alice Weidel, left and Tino Chrupalla arrive for a press conference in Berlin, Germany, September 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Newly elected leaders of Germany's Alternative for Germany (AfD) party Alice Weidel, left and Tino Chrupalla arrive for a press conference in Berlin, Germany, September 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

BERLIN — The far-right Alternative for Germany on Saturday elected two prominent figures to lead the party for the next two years after one of its co-chairs quit in January saying it had become too radical.

Delegates voted for Alternative for Germany’s remaining co-chair, Tino Chrupalla, to head the party together with parliamentary caucus leader Alice Weidel.

The vote became necessary after European lawmaker Joerg Meuthen stepped down from the leadership in January, warning that the party risked being driven into “total isolation and ever further toward the political edge” with its current course.

Meuthen was the party’s third leader to quit since Alternative for Germany was founded in 2013. All cited extremist tendencies within the party that have also made it the subject of scrutiny by Germany’s domestic intelligence service.

Initially formed in opposition to the euro currency, the party swung to the right in 2015 to capitalize on resentment against migrants and entered the federal parliament for the first time in 2017. Lately, it has vocally opposed almost all pandemic restrictions and Western sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine.

The party, known by its German acronym AfD, received just over 10% of the vote in last year’s national election.

The new elected party chairmen Joerg Meuthen, right, and Alexander Gauland shake hands during a party convention of the Alternative for Germany, AfD, party in Hannover, Germany, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

Delegates at AfD’s congress in the eastern town of Riesa also voted Friday in favor of changing its statutes so that in the future the party can be headed by a single leader.

The proposal was championed by Bjoern Hoecke, the party’s leader in Thuringia state, who is considered to be on the extreme right of the party and has espoused revisionist views of Germany’s Nazi past.

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