AfD in freefall over European lead candidate

European Parliament expels MEPs following Maximilian Krah’s remarks about Nazi SS members

Nine MEPs from Germany’s far-right Alternative für Deutschland have been expelled from their European Parliament grouping two weeks before EU elections, in a row over the German party’s controversial lead candidate.

The Identity and Democracy (ID) group announced the move after AfD MEP Maximilian Krah told Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper that members of the Nazi SS were not necessarily all criminals.

Mr Krah had already been ordered by AfD leaders to in effect disappear until election day after reports he accepted Russian payments and claims he employed an alleged Chinese spy in his Brussels office.

Support for the AfD has slumped seven points from January to 15 per cent. Amid fears of the scandal – and poll slump – spreading, Marine Le Pen of France’s far-right Rassemblement National announced earlier this week that her party – a leading ID member – was breaking ties with the AfD.


On Thursday a complete boycott of the AfD was backed by a majority of other ID members including Italy’s League, the Flemish Vlaams Belang, the Danish People’s Party and Czech party Freedom.

The ID statement notes that a “series of incidents” involving Mr Krah and his grouping “have damaged the cohesion and reputation of the group”.

Austria’s Freedom Party and the Estonian People’s Party opposed the move.

Mr Krah’s AfD colleagues in Brussels said they would challenge the expulsion decision.

“The AfD in the European Parliament is paying the price for the uncontrolled remarks of Maximilian Krah that damage the AfD in Germany and isolate them in the EU,” the party said in a statement.

AfD leaders in Berlin said they “took note” of the decision and remained “optimistic about election night and the following days”, suggesting a return to the fold for Mr Krah after election day is not ruled out.

On Wednesday Mr Krah announced he was halting his own election campaign and would step down from the AfD leadership board; he has been absent from all campaign rallies but remains its lead candidate in the EU elections.

Ms Le Pen’s efforts to take her party mainstream and distance herself from radical elements in the AfD go back months. In January she said she was in “total disagreement” with the reported stance of AfD politicians who were said to have discussed radical deportation measures for “unassimilated” German citizens.

Derek Scally

Derek Scally

Derek Scally is an Irish Times journalist based in Berlin