German far-right AfD leader criticizes counterparts in France, Italy

A leader of the scandal-plagued far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) lashed out at European parties of a similar ilk on Saturday after the AfD was expelled from its European Parliament group.

In a blow ahead of next month’s EU-wide elections, the AfD was ejected this week from the Identity and Democracy (ID) group, an alliance of populist right-wing parties in the parliament.

AfD co-leader Tino Chrupalla hit out at the far-right party of Marine Le Pen in France and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. He said he would not allow them to influence AfD policies.

Le Pen’s National Rally is a member of the ID group. The party quickly began distancing itself from the AfD after Maximilian Krah, an AfD candidate for the European Parliament, said not all members of the SS were criminals.

The Schutzstaffel (SS), was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Krah’s Nazi comments were published in Italian media earlier this month.

Chrupalla characterized Meloni, one of Europe’s most powerful figures on the far right, as actually a moderate pushing Brussels’ agenda. He claimed that since Meloni took office in 2022 she has turned in favour of more migration and sending weapons to Ukraine.

“This Melonization will not happen with us,” Chrupalla said at an AfD party conference in the eastern town of Glauchau.

The AfD will not bend in order to become more respectable for others, he said: “For us, German interests always come first.”

Apart from the SS comments, Krah’s ties to Russia have come under media scrutiny and his one-time assistant was arrested last month on suspicion of spying for China.

Still, Chrupalla downplayed the AfD’s explusion from the EU parliamentary group as a “small crisis” and said the the party, which remains Germany’s second-most popular in surveys, had been through worse.

The other co-leader of the AfD, Alice Weidel, struck a less combative tone at an event on the other side of the country.

“The week we have had has not been a good one. We have run into turbulence with an unpleasant outcome,” she said on Saturday in the western town of Marl.

“Such days, such moments when things are not going so well are always an opportunity to learn lessons in order to continue to grow and further professionalize ourselves,” Weidel told some 800 or so party supporters.

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