German far-right AfD kicked out of ID-group

The far-right Identity & Democracy group in the European Parliament kicked out the scandal-plagued German far-right party AfD on Thursday afternoon (23 May), but the German delegation said it might fight the decision.

The members of the ID group excluded the German party in a tight vote of 5-3, according to ID sources, meaning that two weeks before the European elections, the AfD had been left without a European political group.

The move can be seen as an effort to avoid negative spillover to other member parties in the wake of a string of recent scandals involving the AfD.

The AfD leadership duo, Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla, released a short press statement saying that they have “taken note of the ID parliamentary group’s decision.”

The AfD had tried to appease its European partners by taking their two scandal-ridden frontrunners out of the election campaign on Wednesday.

Maximilian Krah and Petr Bystron have both been accused of taking money from Russia via an alleged propaganda network, while Krah himself is additionally under preliminary investigation for close relations with China.

Now a former assistant of his has been separately accused of working for a Chinese intelligence service and has recently been arrested, while the Belgian police raided Krah’s offices in the European Parliament on 7 May.

The final straw, however, was a controversial interview Krah gave to Italian La Repubblica over the weekend, where he stated that not each member of the Nazi Schutzstaffel (SS) during the Third Reich was “automatically a criminal”.

On Wednesday, Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National, also a part of ID, dealt AfD another blow by ending their cooperation with them in the European Parliament in response to Krah’s statements.

“The AfD in the European Parliament is thus paying the price for Maximilian Krah’s uncontrolled statements, which are damaging the AfD in Germany and isolating it in the EU,” the head of the AfD delegation in Parliament, Christine Anderson, and Deputy Group Chairman Gunnar Beck said in a statement.

Not yet the end?

According to ID sources, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Czechia voted to expel AfD while Austria, Estonia, and Germany itself voted to keep them in the group.

The vote of Denmark, who abstained from voting, was technically counted as ‘in favour’, as per the ID’s standstill clause, whereby those who do not vote count as agreeing with the party. Their lead candidate Anders Vistisen had given the AfD an ultimatum to expel Krah or be excluded from the group after the European election.

According to AfD sources, the party is considering fighting the decision as they believe the Czech vote was invalid since the Czechs did not directly answer the question should the AfD be excluded, but instead stated they “agreed with the position of Marine Le Pen”.

If confirmed, this would mean that only three parties voted to kick out their Germans colleagues, while three voted against. In order to expel a member, an absolute majority of five votes are needed to support such a move.

Nonetheless, fighting the decision is seen as a mere political move as the expulsion will not take place until after the elections.

The AfD leadership, however, is already looking at the time after the election and is confident that they will find other parties they can work with.

“In order to be politically effective in Brussels, cooperation with related parties is essential,” they said in their press statement.

“We are therefore confident that we will continue to have reliable partners at our side in the new legislative period.”

[Edited by Oliver Noyan/Zoran Radosavljevic/Rajnish Singh]

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