Party leader Tino Chrupalla evidently had little idea on Monday morning of what was brewing against him behind the scenes. When the AfD boss arrived at the federal press conference to explain the election result in North Rhine-Westphalia, Chrupalla was in a good mood. His party had lost votes again the night before in the state elections. But the really bad crash didn’t happen. The right-wing party at least narrowly managed the five percent hurdle. In the most populous federal state, the AfD so in Parliament. The strong core electorate made it possible to re-enter the state parliament, said Chrupalla. “The unity has paid off.”
However, there can hardly be any talk of that in the AfD. At the same time, leading representatives of the camp, which is moderate by AfD standards, made it clear in a public statement how much the ninth weak performance in a row in a state election is escalating the power struggle in the party. Chrupalla, who is assigned to the more right-wing camp, had just taken his seat on the podium and had uttered his praise, when “party friends” unmistakably demanded his early departure by e-mail.
“We need fresh minds at the top of the party. Competent and without multiple burdens from too many offices,” wrote Joana Cotar, a member of the Federal Executive Committee from Hesse. “With Tino Chrupalla ended the success story of the AfD,” she continued to criticize. It neither reflects the entire party, “nor does it convince the voters. That’s why he can’t run again as federal spokesman.”
However, that is exactly what Chrupalla intends to do and does not want to be dissuaded by the internal dispute. “I face the criticism,” replied the party leader, who was surprised by his opponents’ advance. “Elections are won or lost together,” said Chrupalla and went on to counterattack: “It needs disciplining,” demanded the 47-year-old Saxon. “That will be the main task of the new federal executive board.” That’s why he will run again and present a team for it shortly.
But pressure is growing from several sides. Jürgen Braun, former parliamentary director of the parliamentary group, also settled accounts with Chrupalla on Monday. “Since 2020, the AfD has only lost nine state elections in a row. In the east as well as in the west. Crowds of voters have also turned away in the federal elections,” writes Braun. “All of these elections fell exactly during the term of office of party leader Tino Chrupalla, which began in November 2019. We can’t ignore that any longer.”
The senders criticized the Russia course of the party leader who remained after Jörg Meuthen’s departure. Chrupalla had campaigned against the delivery of heavy weapons and for the lifting of sanctions against Russia. “An overly great understanding of the Russian position in the Ukraine war is not accepted by the majority anywhere,” criticized Federal Executive Alexander Wolf. The AfD is “increasingly perceived as an outsider. Creating peace without weapons” is a “church day slogan, not the position of the AfD”. Wolf described Chrupalla’s course in the Ukraine crisis as “a mistake that almost cost the AfD another parliamentary group.” Frank-Christian Hansel, the Berlin state executive, warned that many voters in the West now only perceive the AfD as an East party.
This means that the camps of the party are facing each other more and more irreconcilably. There is rumbling not only among those who are moderate by AfD standards, but also among the extreme right. They also call for a change in strategy and plead for a more radical course. In order to enforce this, right-winger Björn Höcke is toying with a candidacy for a federal post. According to insiders, even with that of the party leader. In this case, several representatives of the moderate camp had already internally announced a break with their own party.