EU Parliament group expels far-right German party AfD

Fri, 24 May 2024 8:01 GMT
The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party was expelled from its group in the European Parliament on Thursday following outrageous remarks by its leading election candidate.
EU Parliament group expels far-right German party AfD

Together with France's National Rally and Italy's League, the AfD formed part of Identity and Democracy, one of two far-right formations in the parliament.

But fellow members have moved to distance themselves from AfD, as the party battles a string of scandals just over two weeks before a vote in which the far-right has been riding high in the polls.

"The Bureau of the Identity and Democracy Group in the European Parliament has decided today to exclude the German delegation, AfD, with immediate effect," said a statement posted online by ID.

"The ID Group no longer wants to be associated with the incidents involving Maximilian Krah, head of the AfD list for the European elections."

Krah, the Alternative for Germany's top candidate in EU-wide elections next month, is being investigated for suspicious links to Russia and China.

After Krah made comments minimizing the crimes of Nazi's feared SS, France's far-right National Rally decided to draw a line -- announcing Tuesday it would no longer sit with the AfD in the EU parliament.

Scrambling to limit the damage, the AfD a day later banned Krah from EU election campaign events – though it is too late to remove the 47-year-old lawyer from the top of its list for the poll.

Clean break

But the RN's Marine Le Pen said it was too little too late.

"It is time to make a clean break with this movement, which is not managed and which obviously is under the influence of radical groups within," she said.

RN lawmaker Jean-Paul Garraud, who sits in ID's leadership bureau, confirmed his party was behind the initiative to expel its German partner.

He told AFP that Krah's party as a whole carried responsibility for his "inadmissible" comments as lead candidate -- "and therefore we decided to exclude AfD."

AfD said in response on Thursday that it had "taken note of the ID Group's decision" but insisted it remained optimistic for the upcoming elections.

The party insisted it would "continue to have reliable partners at our side in the new legislative period."

AfD's exclusion came a day after Krah said following talks with the party's top brass on Wednesday that he would leave its federal steering committee.

The lawmaker is at the center of a deepening crisis after one of his aides in the European Parliament was arrested on suspicion of spying for China.

Krah and another key AfD candidate, Petr Bystron, have also been forced to deny allegations they accepted money to spread pro-Russian positions on a Moscow-financed news website.

Bystron, who is second place on the AfD's EU elections list, said Wednesday that he, too, would stop appearing at campaign events – putting it down to "family reasons."

The ID grouping until now counted 59 European lawmakers from eight countries, the largest delegations bring Italy's League party with 23 lawmakers, and France's RN with 18.

The AfD had nine lawmakers in ID, the sixth largest grouping in the EU Parliament – behind the assembly's other far-right grouping the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR).


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