German anti-immigrant AfD party picks leaders for election drive

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Cologne Saturday to demonstrate against the far-right Alternative for Germany, which is holding its party conference in the city.

Some 600 AfD delegates are meeting to discuss policy for September's national elections, but could only enter the convention centre under heavy police protection as protesters tried to keep them out.

A majority of AfD delegates at a congress in the western city of Cologne backed 76-year-old publicist Alexander Gauland and Alice Weidel, a 38-year-old former investment banker, as candidates fronting the party's bid to win seats in the national parliament for the first time in a September 24 election.

Co-leader Frauke Petry, left, talks to board member Alexander Gauland at the party convention of Germany's nationalist party AfD.

COLOGNE, Germany (AP) - Divisions among German nationalists erupted Saturday as delegates from the far-right Alternative for Germany party rejected an appeal by one of their leaders to seek a pragmatic political path instead of turning into a "fundamental opposition" party.

Petry also criticized more extreme members of the AfD such as Björn Höcke, a regional party leader who caused offense earlier this year with a comment about the Holocaust memorial in Berlin when he said that "Germans are the only people in the world who plant a monument of shame in the heart of [their] capital".

The party has suffered declining poll numbers in 2017, which led co-leader Frauke Petry to put forth a proposal to reject "extremist voices" and move closer to the center.

Around 600 delegates rejected Petry's call to adopt a more moderate-sounding "Realpolitik" programme meant to shut down the party's more extremist voices, including those who have attacked Germany's Holocaust remembrance culture.

Gauland, 76, is one of the party's most prominent members and considered one of Petry's main rivals.

The right-wing AfD is seeking to win seats in the national parliament for the first time.

Joerg Meuthen, an economics professor who is Petry's normally soft-spoken counterpart as co-leader, drew applause on Saturday as he hit the migration theme and pushed back against Petry's bid to weigh cooperating with Germany's traditional parties.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Petry had become the face of the anti-immigration party, which hurt Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives during the migrant crisis but has leaked support this year.

Meuthen said he was not xenophobic but was concerned about the extent to which migrants were changing Germany and that Germans did not want to become a minority in their own country.

Alexander Gauland (right) with Frauke Petry.

Petry, 41, announced Wednesday that she would no longer be her party's top candidate.

Recommended News

  • Devs Reveal New Star Wars Battlefront 2 Details

    Devs Reveal New Star Wars Battlefront 2 Details

    So DICE looked back upon the original Battlefront games and possibly the likes of Overwatch for advice. It can be pre-ordered for £79.99 on PS4 and Xbox One , with the PC version entering at £69.99.
    Sydney sightseeing day planned for US Vice President Mike Pence

    Sydney sightseeing day planned for US Vice President Mike Pence

    Vice President Pence spent Sunday morning at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney , Australia where he's wrapping up an Asia-Pacific tour. Also, Pence was to meet with the Australian opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten and with some business executives.
    Partial French official results show Le Pen, Macron going to second round

    Partial French official results show Le Pen, Macron going to second round

    The left's Jean-Luc Mélenchon is remaining in the running for now, despite being projected to receive only 19 percent of the vote. Le Pen's electoral party was held in Hénin-Beaumont - a former mining town in northern France and a National Front stronghold.
  • Rangers fans know exactly who to blame for bad performance vs Celtic

    Scott Sinclair believes completing the treble will be the flawless way to cap off his dream debut season at Celtic . Kenny Miller shows his frustration during Celtic's victory against Rangers in yesterday's Scottish Cup semi-final.
    Father of FSU star shot, killed in West Palm Beach

    Father of FSU star shot, killed in West Palm Beach

    The news comes the week of the 2017 NFL Draft, during which Travis Rudolph, who spent three seasons at FSU, hopes to be selected. The Rudolph family needs as many prayers as possible as they deal with the sudden and tragic death of Travis' father Darryl.

    Trump's grand plans collide with 100-day mark

    But the presidency is also having an impact on Trump , prompting him, at times, to play the role of traditional president. The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted April 17-20 of 900 adults, including more than 400 who were interviewed by cell phone.
  • French presidential election -- a choice between globalism and nationalism

    And she can also point to Macron's background as an investment banker and a graduate of one of France's elite universities. She added: "In 1943 in Casablanca Charles De Gaulle said the grandeur of the people only comes from the people itself".

    Guentzel tallies hat trick in Penguins' win

    Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, coming off a playoff career-high 54 saves in Game 2, stopped 26 shots in this one. In round one, they didn't want to go back to MSG for a game six - so they dismantled the Rangers 6-3 on home ice.
    Kathrine Switzer: The Fearless Woman Of Running

    Kathrine Switzer: The Fearless Woman Of Running

    In 1967, Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to run #BostonMarathon as a registered entrant. This time, she was hailed for paving the way for women's distance running around the world.
  • Greek-Russian and American astronauts at International Space Station

    NASA's Peggy Whitson , the crew's commander, Russia's Oleg Novitskiy and France's Thomas Pesquet greeted Fischer and Yurchikhin with cheers and hugs.
    Trump Fails to Properly Characterize Armenian Genocide

    Trump Fails to Properly Characterize Armenian Genocide

    Trump's statement acknowledged the heated debate over the term genocide. The practice of genocide has occurred throughout human history.

    Australia Plans To Tighten Rules For Citizenship

    Applicants should have been resident in Australia for five years immediately prior to visa application. They also can't vote in elections, unless they were enrolled to vote as a British subject before 1984.

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.