EIt was supposed to be an unexcited party congress at which the AfD wanted to take care of social policy and present a picture of unity. The federal chairman Jörg Meuthen, of all people, has thwarted his party. With a relentless attack on the radicals in the AfD, he ensured that the party congress on Sunday threatened to become a verbal battle in the hall when it came to accusing the party leader of a split in a motion. It speaks for the self-preservation instinct of the AfD that the delegates did not deal with the application in the end. The heated debate shows, however, that the AfD is still torn between those who want to act as a right-wing conservative party in parliaments and those forces who want to overturn “the system” with provocations and a movement on the street.
But the party congress also showed something new. The vast majority of the AfD from the western regional associations were surprisingly well organized and supported Meuthen, even if they found parts of his speech exaggerated. The vocal minority from the east, the Höcke camp, fell on the defensive. While Meuthen showed leadership, Björn Höcke’s nimbus as a leader in Kalkar finally collapsed. Apparently, the disbanded right-wing national “wing”, which is particularly strong in the East, has not cope with the exclusion of its organizer Andreas Kalbitz, who was classified as a right-wing extremist by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.
Something else became clear in Kalkar: the conflict between Meuthen and Gauland. The party leader openly attacked the formerly strong parliamentary group leader in the Bundestag. Gauland had always refused, in the name of the unit, to run the way Meuthen is doing now. He became the patron of the radicals in the party. With his fight, Meuthen wants to prevent the entire AfD from being monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution – and secure an election success in the coming year. However, it is completely uncertain whether this will work out.