German far-right party co-chief quits after election disappointment

·1-min read
Joerg Meuthen struggled to contain more radical elements of the far-right AfD (AFP/John MACDOUGALL)

The co-chief of Germany's far-right AfD Joerg Meuthen said on Monday that he would not seek to continue as head of the eurosceptic and islamophobic party.

After six and a half "incredibly challenging" but also "enriching" years, Meuthen said in a statement that he would "no longer bear the role of federal spokesman" for the party.

Formed in 2013, the AfD first won seats in the German parliament in 2017 but lost ground in elections at the end of September this year.

Despite topping the poll in two former east German states, the party received around 10 percent of the vote nationally, down two percentage points on its previous result.

Meuthen, a member of the European Parliament since 2017, said he would continue his "political work" against "the course set by established parties in Germany and Brussels."

Known as a more moderate figure within the party, Meuthen has been under attack from the more radical members of the AfD.

During a party congress in April, a group of delegates attempted to remove Meuthen from his role as co-party leader.

Meuthen sought in 2020 to dissolve the so-called "Wing", the most extreme strain within the party, ejecting one of its principal figures, Andreas Kalbitz.

The anti-Islam, hard-right AfD has often courted controversy by calling for Germany to stop atoning for its World War II crimes.

One of its co-chiefs, Alexander Gauland, once described the Nazi era as just "a speck of bird poo" on German history.

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