Germany’s AfD expelled from far-right EU parliament group

Weeks before elections, ID group says it does not want to be associated with incidents involving AfD’s Maximilian Krah.

The AfD is out of the European Parliament group after comments made by Maximilian Krah that members of the Nazi parliamentary SS organisation were 'not all criminals' [File: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters]

The far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) group in the European Parliament says it has decided to expel the Alternative for Germany (AfD) delegation weeks before elections for the assembly.

The decision follows comments that Maximilian Krah, the AfD’s lead candidate in the elections, made to an Italian newspaper at the weekend that the members of the Nazi paramilitary SS force were “not all criminals”.

“The Bureau of the Identity and Democracy Group in the European Parliament has decided today to exclude the German delegation, AfD, with immediate effect,” ID said in a statement on Thursday.

“The ID Group no longer wants to be associated with the incidents involving Maximilian Krah, head of the AfD list for the European elections,” the statement said.

Krah, 47, whose aide has been charged with spying for China, has already had to resign from the AfD’s leadership board and promised not to make any further campaign appearances although he is still seeking re-election to the European Parliament.

Far-right parties in the assembly are currently split between the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), whose de facto leader is Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, and the ID group, spearheaded by Marine Le Pen’s National Rally.

It is the latest blow for the AfD in a chaotic few months. France’s Le Pen abandoned the party for being an unsuitable partner as it has faced adverse court rulings and concern about its links to China and Russia.

‘Clean break’

“It is time to make a clean break with this movement, which is not managed and which obviously is under the influence of radical groups within,” Le Pen said.

National Rally lawmaker Jean-Paul Garraud, who sits in ID’s leadership bureau, confirmed his party was behind the initiative to expel its German partner.

He told the Agence France-Presse news agency that Krah’s party as a whole carried responsibility for his “inadmissible” comments as lead candidate – “and, therefore, we decided to exclude AfD.”

The AfD said in response on Thursday that it had “taken note of the ID Group’s decision” but insisted it remained optimistic about the June 6-9 elections.

The party insisted it would “continue to have reliable partners at our side in the new legislative period”.

The AfD’s exclusion came a day after Krah said following talks with the party’s top brass that he will leave its federal steering committee.

The lawmaker is at the centre of a deepening crisis after one of his aides in the European Parliament was arrested on suspicion of spying for China.

Krah and another key AfD candidate, Petr Bystron, have also been forced to deny allegations they accepted money to spread pro-Russian positions on a Moscow-financed news website.

Bystron, who holds the second spot on the AfD’s European Union elections list, said on Wednesday that he, too, would stop appearing at campaign events, putting it down to “family reasons”.

The ID group had consisted of 59 European lawmakers from eight countries, the largest delegations being Italy’s League party with 23 lawmakers and France’s National Rally with 18.

Source: News Agencies