GERMANY'S AfD PARTY VOTED TO EXPEL THEIR BRANDENBURG STATE LEADER Friday over his past connections with an alleged “neo-nazi” youth movement, despite Andreas Kalbitz' denial that he was ever a member. The vote was close: 7-5 with one abstention.
The current co-leaders of the AfD are Joerg Meuthen and Tino Chrupalla. Other top national leaders include Beatrix von Storch, Alice Weidel, Alexander Gauland and Stephan Brandner. Gauland, age 79, retired from the leadership position last year, but is still Federal Parliamentary Leader along with Weidel.
Kalbitz, 47, is a close ally to Bjoern Hoecke, AfD state leader in Thuringia. Both are considered influential figures in the party and credited with building the greater popularity the AfD enjoys in the eastern part of Germany. They are associated with a more revisionist interpretation of Germany's war-time history; in 2007 (13 years ago) Kalbitz was photographed at an event hosted by the HDJ (Heimattreuen Deutschen Jugend), an alleged neo-Nazi youth movement that has since been banned. It was legal at the time. Kalbitz claims he was never a member and didn't play a part, although it was possible his name might be found on one of their old lists.
The AfD has come under growing scrutiny from Germany’s domestic intelligence agency in direct proportion to its growing success in gaining parliamentary seats in state and federal elections. The other parties, all to the left of the AfD, do everything in their power to block, mock and conspire against the most successful nationalist party in Germany. The political parties and the chancellor's office work together in opposition to the AfD. In response, the AfD national board has sought to distance itself from 'extremists' in its membership, and instituted rules that no former member of a “neo-nazi” youth group can join the AfD. The board rejected Kalbitz' claim that he was never a member of the HDJ.
Kalbitz has said he will fight the decision and "exhaust all legal options" to overrule his expulsion.
Alexander Gauland told public broadcaster ZDF that the decision was “wrong and very dangerous for the party.” By which I think he means they will lose votes in the east thereby, without gaining any in the west, and discourage and disappoint an important segment of the party base. It also sets a precedent for losing an independent spirit within their membership. Gauland, being a seasoned German politician, knows what he's talking about.
Source: Carolyn Yeager