Far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) will become a more radical, anti-Islamic party without co-chief Frauke Petry leading it into September’s national election, Germany’s Central Council of Muslims warned on April 20.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, Petry had become the face of the anti-immigration party, which hurt Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s conservatives during the migrant crisis but has leaked support this year. After a months-long power struggle, she announced on April 19 she would not lead the party’s national election campaign.
The shock move was widely seen as an admission of defeat, even though she stays on as the party’s joint leader.
In an interview with the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung daily, Aiman Mazyek, head of Germany’s Central Council of Muslims, said the AfD was “soaking up” the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), which Germany’s Constitutional Court earlier this year said pursued Nazi ideals.
The AfD last year endorsed an election manifesto that says Islam is not compatible with Germany’s constitution. Mainstream parties have ruled out the AfD as a possible coalition partner.
Simone Peter, a leading member of the Green party, told the Rheinische Post newspaper that with Petry’s decision, the AfD was “skinning itself”.
“The party’s extreme right wing views … are coming increasingly to the fore,” Peter said.
Meanwhile, AfD has been losing in the polls. Support has fallen to between 8% and 11% from about 13% six months ago.