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Germany: Outspoken AfD Member Quits

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An Outspoken Member Of The Far-Right Alternative for Germany (AfD) confirmed his departure from the party Friday, arguing that the group had not kept campaign promises and was too paralysed by fear of coming under government surveillance.

The AfD “is often really not seen any more as a true patriotic alternative, which is why it has seen a steep loss in believability,” Andre Poggenburg said in comments to Die Welt newspaper.

Instead, he will form a new party focusing on a region of central and eastern Germany known as Middle Germany: Aufbruch deutscher Patrioten – Mitteldeutschland (Rise Up German Patriots – Middle Germany).

He said other AfD members have already signed on. He shared images of the new party logo on his Facebook page.

He told Die Welt that his new party is expected to compete in state elections this year in Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia.

He was known as a fairly outspoken member of the AfD, which is full of people who pride themselves on raging against mainstream politics. But Poggenburg has been scolded several times for his statements, sometimes even by the AfD.

Last year he caused outrage for a speech in which he referred to people of Turkish descent as “camel traders” who have “no place” in Germany. He gave up a key state party parliamentary job after the uproar.

He is also involved in a controversy in 2017 when transcripts of internet chats were released in which he used the phrase “Germany for the Germans” – often associated with Nazis – and speculated about “expanding the outer borders” of Germany.

AfD members have tried to distance themselves from comments that they say link them to the Nazis. One fear is that expressing such right-wing ideology leads to members being put under surveillance by state security services.

After an attack on a member in Bremen which left him hospitalized for two days, the AfD said the state’s willingness to put members under surveillance signalled to the hard-left that it was acceptable to use violence against AfD members.

Nonetheless, Poggenburg told Die Welt he does not view the AfD as a rival, but an “ally.”

He told Die Welt that the divide between his beliefs and those of the party had become so great “that I have decided I have to lead my political fight for this country from outside the AfD.”

But some party members seemed glad to be done with him.

“Finally. I hope he takes this fringe of fools and these so-called patriots with him,” tweeted Uwe Junge, head of the AfD in the western state of Rhineland-Palitinate.

The AfD started life as a eurosceptic party and there remains some tension between members focused on economic problems and those who have tried to make the party focus more on migration issues.

 


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