Dhe sensational speech by AfD party leader Jörg Meuthen at the federal party conference in Kalkar has caused clear criticism in his party. In a highly emotional speech, the party leader blamed the radicals in the party for their lack of success. The times when electoral success followed electoral success are over; the successes of the AfD and even the party are “at risk like never before”. Meuthen had blamed the provocative demeanor and the rough choice of words of the people from the right wing.
In detail, Meuthen had distanced himself from the “lateral thinker” movement and criticized the choice of words of the “Corona dictatorship” as well as the comparison of the Infection Protection Act with the “Enabling Act” of the National Socialists. Meuthen had said that it was a “trivialization of the horrific misdeeds of those dark times”. He had demanded discipline and professionalization and railed against “pubescent schoolboys”, “Politkasperle” and those “who are only too happy to scamper and roll around”.
Alexander Gauland, parliamentary group leader in the Bundestag, was one of the first to attack Meuthen directly. The speech of the party chairman was in parts “divisive”, Gauland told the Phoenix broadcaster. Gauland himself recently spoke of a “Corona” dictatorship in the Bundestag. Now he said it was “ridiculous” if Meuthen insinuated that he was questioning the constitution because of the use of this term. Gauland also does not share Meuthen’s criticism of the lateral thinkers. They also have “a lot of middle-class people”. Meuthen makes it “too easy” for itself with insulting them. With his speech, Meuthen “offended many people in the plenary”. Meuthen’s attack on the Bundestag faction because of the disturbances in the Bundestag by guests of AfD members he “did not understand at all,” said Gauland. “We have solved this problem in the Bundestag faction and the party chairman does not have to interfere in a speech that is supposed to bring people together,” said Gauland. Censorship from Meuthen “I cannot and will not accept”.
After Meuthen’s speech, there was applause, but also boos. Many delegates refused to applaud. Meuthen lacked a sense of how far he can go, even some of his supporters of the FAZ said. Many delegates see a movement like lateral thinking as a great potential for voters for the AfD.
Meuthen’s attacks on Gauland were also criticized. Meuthen had taken Gauland’s enthusiasm for Reich Chancellor Otto von Bismarck as an opportunity to portray him as looking backwards. Some in the AfD seemed to understand by being a conservative “a back to yesterday, feel at home with Bismarck and adore this historical figure enthusiastically,” Meuthen said – referring to Gauland, who is considered a great admirer of the Iron Chancellor. That may be “romantic”, “but above all it is blind to the future”. Delegates described this attack as unnecessary and too extensive.
Gauland: “Too much bow to the protection of the Constitution”
Gauland also criticized Meuthen’s appearance as “too much bow to the protection of the constitution”. Meuthen wants to prevent the Office for the Protection of the Constitution from declaring the entire party an object of observation. He is apparently relying on the fact that an observation of the AfD will be more difficult to enforce and will stand in court if the party leadership clearly distances itself from radical statements. However, Gauland does not believe that this strategy will be successful. “We have to fight against the protection of the constitution,” he said.
Others accused Meuthen of indirectly providing food for the protection of the constitution. “Demand discipline, but use the stage of a federal party congress as a federal spokesman to fight against internal party opponents – and that during the period of the announced observation by the constitutional protection”, wrote Christoph Berndt, chairman of the AfD in the Brandenburg state parliament, on Twitter. Berndt is the successor to Andreas Kalbitz in the parliament in Potsdam, the organizer of the right-wing national “wing” in the AfD that was dissolved by the party leadership. Kalbitz himself was expelled from the AfD at Meuthen’s instigation.
The hour-long discussion about the socio-political concept of the AfD that the party congress passed was comparatively harmonious at the party congress. The party closed a programmatic gap before the federal election in 2021. The party congress passed the key motion on health policy and proposals for stabilizing the pension system. In the end, almost 89 percent of the 500 or so delegates voted for the concept. The application to test a basic income, however, failed. The delegates decided not to vote on the proposal of the social policy spokesman for the Bundestag faction, René Springer, for “citizenship money”.