Kalkar (dpa) – Argue, yes you can do that with the AfD. Not about retirement, not about the federal government’s anti-corona measures. At the AfD federal party conference in Kalkar on the Lower Rhine, it is down to the essence – or as one of the speakers sums it up: “Today we are burning our own house.”
As always, it didn’t start until Saturday. In his opening speech, Chairman Tino Chrupalla especially calls on the unity of the party. He also said, “Anyone who has a problem with the Basic Law has nothing to do with our party.” At the same time, however, he stressed, “We are not improving this situation by constantly blaming ourselves.” Only “standing together” would help against the “smear campaign” of the political opponents.
But then Jörg Meuthen’s appearance comes. With massive criticism of party friends, who “seem increasingly uninhibited”, the co-chair caused a stir. He railed against “adolescent schoolboys”, “political bullies” and those “who love to scream and roll around”. Meuthen makes it clear that he no longer wants to be held accountable by those who constantly draw attention with provocations and verbal lapses.
He says, “Incidents like these have made the masses of people who have chosen us so far and who are almost desperate for a good alternative to the old parties, no longer vote for us.” Meuthen is convinced that this is one reason why the AfD is currently well below the result in the 2017 federal election. He warns that the days when electoral success followed electoral success are over. In fact, all previous successes are “at risk like never before”.
What drives the man to deal with his own party in this way and not to stop with the president of the Bundestag, Alexander Gauland? Because that comes up when Meuthen asks – more rhetorically – the question: “Is it really wise to speak of a” Corona dictatorship “?” That was exactly what Gauland had done.
For his exhortation not to jeopardize what has been achieved with reactionary stances and foul language, Meuthen ultimately garnered much applause, but also bragging.
Gauland – also honorary chairman of the AfD – his disappointment with Meuthen is clearly visible. He once led the party with him. Now he says in a TV interview that there were passages in Meuthen’s speech that “I think are divisive.” The response to Meuthen’s criticism of the term “Corona dictatorship” he uses and the recent incidents in the Bundestag where guests of AfD MPs had insulted and harassed politicians: he does not need “any censorship of Jörg Meuthen” is also clearly. for how he leads the parliamentary group, says Gauland.
When Meuthen demands in his speech in the “Wunderland Kalkar” that the AfD should be a disciplined, “conservative constitutional party” and not a “Kunterbunt circus” in which everyone can keep their own staging, it is not just a matter of style. It is also about how the AfD is dealing with the fact that the “wing”, which has since been disbanded, is adhered to by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. The AfD’s youth organization, Junge Alternative, continues to classify the domestic intelligence agency as a “suspicious case.”
Meuthen, he has often said, at least wants to prevent the entire party from one day becoming the target of the Bureau for the Protection of the Constitution. Perhaps this is one of the reasons he cautions against being mean with the “lateral thinking” movement. At their gatherings, very normal citizens have some legitimate concerns, but also a number of people representing anti-system positions.
When the AfD delegates queue in the evening for the buffet, there is hardly any topic other than the Meuthen speech. On the second day of the party conference, supporters and opponents of the chairman then verbally attack each other on the open podium. Meuthen’s supporters defend the party chairman’s clear announcement. “Leadership at last,” they cheer. Others are shocked. Especially the supporters of the right-wing extremist movement around the Thuringian AfD country leader Björn Höcke accuse Meuthen of having divided the party with such announcements. Meuthen himself says he wants to position the AfD as a “bourgeois” party: “I am doing what I was chosen.” Those who do not like that do not have to vote for him when the new federal administration is elected in a year’s time.