German far-right AfD MP quits party whip hours after being elected

Frauke Petry abruptly left a press conference after making the shock announcement

Jon Stone
Berlin
Monday 25 September 2017 10:00
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German far-right AfD MP quits party whip hours after being elected

One of the politicians elected to the German parliament for the far-right Alternative For Germany (AfD) party has resigned the whip before even taking her seat.

Frauke Petry, one of the co-chairs of the party, told reporters in Berlin she would not sit in the party's group in the Bundestag, effectively making her an independent MP.

"I decided after careful reflection that I will not sit with the (AfD) parliamentary group," she told reporters in Berlin, before abruptly leaving the room.

The surprise move shocked Ms Petry's AfD colleagues when it was made at a press conference on Monday morning, with other politicians present indicating that they were not expecting it.

It is not yet clear whether Ms Petry will remain a member of the party outside parliament.

The newly-elected MP hails from the far-right wing of the AfD: she has called for German forces to use live ammunition to be used to prevent illegal border crossings, and wants to ban elements of Islam, such as minarets, from German towns.

She has previously been embroiled in power struggles with other members of the party, most notably over whether she should be its designated "lead candidate" in the election. She lost out in that race to Alexander Gauland, the group's most prominent face in the media.

Ms Petry had also publicly criticised Mr Gauland for various controversial statements he made on the campaign trail, including claims that Germany should be proud of its soldiers in the Second World War – a taboo in the country. Mr Gauland said after Ms Petry's departure that he did not think his statements were responsible for her decision.

Her refusal to join the party's parliamentary group lays bare the factional infighting and battles for control that have plagued the party since its foundation as an anti-euro movement in 2013.

The shock move comes following election results that saw the AfD take 12.6 per cent of the vote, becoming the first far-right party to win seats in the Bundestag for half a century.

It gained 94 seats – though after the MPs departure it will have just 93 taking the whip.

Matthias Jung, from pollsters Forschungsgruppe Wahlen told reporters in Berlin that the AfD had taken “one step towards disintegration” with Ms Petry’s departure. He however argued that far-right parties were probably here to stay in Germany – in common with other European countries.

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