AfD expels Brandenburg leader for concealing ties to nationalist group

The Brandenburg AfD leader is accused of having concealed his former membership in the right-wing extremist and now banned association "Heimattreue Deutsche Jugend" (German Youth True to Home) when he joined the party. EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPH SOEDER / POOL [EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPH SOEDER / POOL]

The leadership of the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party on Friday (15 May), expelled Brandenburg’s AfD leader Andreas Kalbitz after Kalbitz was classified as a right-wing extremist by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution in early March. However, the power struggle in the AfD is unlikely to end. EURACTIV Germany reports.

The party announced Friday evening (15 May) that the party leadership had voted by a narrow margin of 7-5 with one abstention, to cancel Kalbitz’ membership in the party “with immediate effect” after AfD chairman Jörg Meuthen had brought the vote on Kalbitz.

The Brandenburg AfD leader is accused of having concealed his former membership in the right-wing extremist and now banned association “Heimattreue Deutsche Jugend” (German Youth True to Home) when he joined the party.

The AfD is deeply divided over the decision. The leader of the AfD parliamentary group in the Berlin House of Representatives, Georg Pazderski, called Kalbitz’ exclusion from the party “a clear sign that we take the fight against right-wing extremist ideas in our own ranks very seriously.”

However, AfD deputy leader Stephan Brandner called via Twitter for a federal party conference to be convened soon, at which all board members should explain the reasons for their decision and declared that he had voted to keep Kalbitz in the party.

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Kalbitz one of the leaders of the ‘Wing’

In mid-March, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), together with the Thuringian AfD chairman Björn Höcke, had described Kalbitz as the “right-wing extremist main protagonist” of the AfD sub-organisation ‘Der Flügel,’ known as the ‘Wing’.

The BfV also classified the sub-organisation as a “proven right-wing extremist endeavour.” The party leadership then asked the group to dissolve itself by the end of April. While the dissolution, which was staged primarily on social networks, is considered officially complete, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution has come to a different conclusion.

“A de facto dissolution of Wing structures or inactivation of the organisation has not yet been ascertained,” the State Office for the Constitution in Saxony told EURACTIV Germany. Brandenburg’s interior and municipal affairs ministry has also spoken of a “sham dissolution.”

“The members of the AfD, who are committed to the ‘wing’, continue to be active in the federal party,” a spokesperson for the ministry told EURACTIV Germany. Höcke and Kalbitz, in particular, would continue to exert considerable influence on the course of the party, it was said before the federal executive board meeting of the AfD.

AfD threatens further division

Kalbitz will have to give up his office as the state leader in Brandenburg after the party leadership’s decision. However, the Secretary-General of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Brandenburg, Erik Stohn, doubts that excluding Kalbitz will change anything about the political orientation of the AfD in Brandenburg.

“The AfD-Brandenburg is a party ‘framed’ by Mr Kalbitz,” he told EURACTIV Germany. Even without Kalbitz, it is at the centre of the extreme-right spectrum. This assessment is shared by the Brandenburg Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which describes the state association as “having evaporated through and through”.

Kalbitz has announced that he intends to legally challenge the decision of the party leadership at federal level. He denies former membership of the “Heimattreue Deutsche Jugend” (German Youth True to Home).

He is also backed by the chairman of the AfD parliamentary group, Alexander Gauland, who  had told media representatives that the decision was “wrong and dangerous for the party.”

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