Dispute in the AfD: mostly concerned with yourself

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The dispute over the “angry speech” by party leader Meuthen once again reveals the deep split in the AfD, says Kai Küstner. The power struggle is likely to be even more bitter in the coming months.

A comment by Kai Küstner, ARD capital studio, currently Kalkar.

When a young child is good at self-interest, they will often be praised for their maturity. But when a political party is more concerned with itself than with the worries of its constituents, it is ruthlessly interpreted as childish behavior. This is exactly what the AfD, which is in the bottom of the survey, is feeling.

And still can not get out of their still relatively young skin: As so often this year, the party delivered live and in front of cameras, vivid proof that the AfD does not exist as a closed party. Divided almost exactly in the middle, it actually exists twice: as an “alternative for Germany” and as an “alternative to the alternative”, so to speak.

Attack and counterattack

This became abundantly clear in the debate about the “angry speech” by AfD boss Jörg Meuthen. Meuthen had the party rights – and that’s what he was aiming for – initially caught on the wrong foot with his surprise attack on day 1. The camp around right wing Björn Höcke needed one night to gather. And then went back to counterattack on day 2.

What followed was a miraculous and bitter debate about the behavior of the party leader in the “Wunderland” amusement park in Kalkar. Which an exhausted delegate finally summed up with the words: “Now that we have used the opportunity for two hours to embarrass ourselves across Germany, I would ask for a 15-minute break.”

Split on all relevant questions

The fact that this head-on collision between the two party camps occurs in the AfD is no coincidence, but has almost the power of a natural law. Because the crack that runs through the middle of the party has been dividing the AfD for years and is revealed in all relevant issues.

Take Corona, for example: While some take the virus seriously, others curry favor with the deniers and also want to take advantage of the anger of the so-called “lateral thinkers”. Take the pension, for example: In neoliberal tradition, the Meuthen camp actually wants to rely entirely on private provision, the Höcke camp does not want to change the caring state or the German pension scheme.

Kind of a 50/50 party

And, perhaps most crucial: While Meuthen wants to offer the protection of the constitution as little attack surface as possible and sees the AfD as a “bourgeois party”, its opponents rely on fundamental opposition and do not necessarily consider the label “far right” to be a flaw. In other words, the two camps basically want completely different parties. The fact that these two widely spread wings seem to be roughly equally strong, i.e. the AfD is a kind of 50/50 party, doesn’t make things any easier.

In any case, under these circumstances it seems almost impossible to fool the electorate into thinking that the election year 2021 is going into the election year as one. And what about party leader Meuthen? He likes to talk about the fact that he is a chess player who can anticipate the moves of his opponent. But to checkmate him politically, that is what his opponents should really work on now. It remains to be seen whether this will succeed; at the moment it looks more like a stalemate. However, it cannot be overlooked that the AfD is caught in a kind of permanent game – against itself.

Editorial note

Comments generally reflect the opinion of the respective author and not that of the editors.

Deutschlandfunk reported on this topic on November 28, 2020 at 6:06 a.m.




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