Wednesday October 13, 2021
Courage missing from supporters
Meuthen never saw himself as an AfD “fig leaf”
After six years, AfD leader Meuthen leaves the party leadership. He doesn’t make a big noise, and he couldn’t see a “permanent shift to the right” either. What bothers him is the opportunism of some officials, whom the outgoing leader of the right-wing populists considers moderate.
The long-time AfD chairman Jörg Meuthen would have wished for more courage from the supporters of his course in the party. “It may be that some, because of their own ambitions, consider it necessary to compromise and come to terms – for example to win mandates and offices in a party or parliamentary group,” said Meuthen. He sees this behavior “with some concern”.
Meuthen announced his withdrawal from the party leadership on Monday. The 60-year-old wrote in a circular to the AfD members that he no longer wanted to run for chairman in the scheduled new election of the party executive committee in December. In the past two years, Meuthen has pleaded for a more moderate course for the AfD. He has made enemies with it, especially in the right wing movement around the Thuringian state chief Björn Höcke.
No more majorities for Meuthen’s ideas
Meuthen has been at the head of the AfD since 2015 – first together with Frauke Petry, who has since retired, then at the side of Alexander Gauland. Since the end of 2019, the MEP has shared the chairmanship with Tino Chrupalla, who is now also chairman of the AfD parliamentary group.
The outgoing party leader emphasized that he did not make the decision not to apply for a fourth term easy. However, the example of the CDU shows that it is not good for a party if the same person has been at the top for years. He also has an “important function” for the AfD in the European Parliament as a critic of the Commission.
In the past few months there had not always been majorities for Meuthen’s proposals in the party executive. In August, for example, the attempt to request the expulsion of the North Rhine-Westphalian AfD candidate for the Bundestag, Matthias Helferich, had failed. Only a suspension of office was decided.
Helferich moved into the Bundestag via the state list. He did not deny that he described himself as the “friendly face of NS” in the chat. However, this term was merely an external attribution of left bloggers, which he “satirized”. Helferich, against whom several members of his party have expressed reservations, does not yet belong to the AfD parliamentary group.
Meuthen sees no “shift to the right”
When asked whether he last felt like a bourgeois fig leaf for a radical party, Meuthen replied: “I was never a fig leaf”. He is also not available for this role. The narrative of the AfD’s “permanent shift to the right” is wrong. Meuthen does not believe that he would have failed if he ran again. He said, however, that he saw the risk that several representatives could be elected to the new party executive committee. With his demeanor, he himself might have felt “walled in” there.
In the election of the AfD party executive committee, which takes place every two years, the chairpersons are elected first. This is followed by the election of the deputies and other board members. According to Meuthen, the fact that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution is increasingly interested in the AfD did not play a role in his decision against running for the presidency.
The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution is observing the “wing”, which has now formally dissolved, as a right-wing extremist endeavor with intelligence means. The party youth (Junge Alternative) is classified as a suspected case by the domestic secret service. The Cologne administrative court wants to decide in the first quarter of next year whether the protection of the constitution can target the entire AfD as a suspected right-wing extremist case. The party had taken a precautionary action against this.