The opening speech by party leader Meuthen also occupied the AfD at the end of its party congress in Kalkar. Meuthen had to listen to harsh criticism – a vote on him was only just averted.
By Isabel Reifenrath, ARD capital studio, currently Kalkar
For a long time it was said in the AfD that Dubravko Mandic would not even make his application. They wanted to stop him. After the speech by federal spokesman Jörg Meuthen, however, he could no longer be stopped. He made it – an application that was to certify Meuthen’s divisive behavior. He resisted: “What is happening here is a targeted, ideologically motivated twisting of my speech from yesterday.”
Meuthen then relativized his speech, even rowing back in his judgment on the “lateral thinkers” movement, whose supporters he had attested on Saturday that they could not even think straight ahead, let alone crosswise. He “certainly not” spoke out against the “lateral thinkers” movement, “I even said that there were a lot of very sensible people who had justified their criticism.”
Lots of allegations
The anger about his speech had built up in some delegates overnight, and it must have been hotly debated that evening. During the application debate, some people talked about their frustration.
One delegate, for example, complained that when he looked into the press he did not read anything about a key proposal. “I only read that Mr. Meuthen has found out that the ‘lateral thinkers’ are right-wing extremists, that we are right-wing extremists in our own ranks, that he has declared war on them. That, dear party friends, is harmful to the party,” he complained. Another delegate also found that Meuthen’s allegations were damaging the AfD: “It only helps the old parties,” he said and called on Meuthen to “return to the family”. Another delegate presented “Arrogance” to Meuthen and stated: “Doctor Meuthen, your time in the AfD is over.”
Focus on Höcke
The applicant Mandic belonged to the right-wing extremist “wing”. His motion was aimed at criticizing Meuthen for having Andreas Kalbitz, confidante of Björn Höcke, and former head of the AFD in Brandenburg, expelled from the party. One delegate saw a very specific mastermind behind his proposal. “It’s the Höcke, where is he anyway? Show yourself here. You’re the puller in the background,” he exclaimed.
Björn Höcke, country chief of the AfD in Thuringia, shook his head violently at the moment. In an interview with the ARD capital studio he denied being behind the proposal. That was “completely absurd”, he said – “I actually have nothing to do with it at all.”
But he found the proposal good. A federal spokesman must also give an account. Meuthen’s speech was “not happy” – “to express myself diplomatically”. Also the fact that there was no opportunity to speak afterwards was “not a fine English way”. Now, said Höcke, this debate had been forced – “and that is fine with me”.
Vote narrowly rejected
The AfD dealt with this application for a full two hours. It almost looked as if this motion was a motion to vote Meuthen out. The result: with a narrow majority, it was possible to prevent the motion from being voted on at all. Another motion was not voted on either. He planned to disapprove of the allegations made in Meuthen’s welcoming speech.
Meuthen didn’t look as relaxed afterwards as it did on Saturday. In the end, he has not yet won the power struggle.