Germany’s far-right AfD chooses nationalist top duo for elections

By Ulrich Steinkohl and Robin Powell, dpa

Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) on Tuesday announced that two senior party figures linked to its nationalist wing would lead the party into federal elections in September.

An online poll of party members gave 71 per cent of the vote to Tino Chrupalla and Alice Weidel as the joint leading candidates, the party said.

Chrupalla is AfD party co-chairperson and Weidel is the leader of the party’s parliamentary faction. One of the two would be expected to become chancellor in the event the AfD won the election.

“Many thanks for your trust,” Weidel wrote on Twitter.

“This result is also a clear vote for an end to the internal debate over the party’s future direction,” Chrupalla said in Berlin.

Chrupalla and Weidel were running against one other, less experienced, duo in the internal ballot. Joachim Wundrak and Joana Cotar – seen as representing the more moderate wing of the party, around leader Joerg Meuthen – received 27 per cent of the vote.

The party has seen a struggle between its two main camps, the nationalist wing around Thuringia state lawmaker Bjoern Hoecke and the moderate wing around Meuthen.

But on Tuesday, officials on all sides issued statements of support for Weidel and Chrupalla.

“Now we go united, strengthened and together into the election campaign,” wrote deputy party leader Beatrix von Storch.

Meuthen also congratulated the winners and wished them success in the elections.

In the last elections in 2017, the AfD shocked the political establishment by coming third, ahead of several other mainstream political parties.

When the Social Democrats went into coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU conservative bloc, the AfD became the largest opposition party in the Bundestag.

The AfD is currently polling at around 10-11 per cent ahead of the elections, which are set for September 26.

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