Mon | Dec 18, 2017

Prominent German nationalist figure Petry to leave party

Published:Wednesday | September 27, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Frauke Petry, co-chairwoman of the AfD, speaks before leaving a press conference of the Alternative for Germany, AfD, in Berlin, Germany, Monday.

BERLIN (AP):

One of the most prominent figures in the nationalist Alternative for Germany said Tuesday she plans to leave the party, even as other lawmakers from the anti-migrant party held their first meeting after a strong showing at the polls.

The announcement from Frauke Petry, the party's co-chairwoman since 2015, came after Alternative for Germany, or AfD, won 12.6 per cent of the vote in Sunday's election to secure seats in the national parliament for the first time.

Petry told reporters yesterday in the eastern city of Dresden she would leave the party "in the coming days". She said it was "the logical consequence of what has happened in recent months in our party".

She played a key role in moving AfD's focus from opposing eurozone bailouts to migration when she took over in 2015, but has been increasingly sidelined in recent months.

Petry has said she aimed to make the AfD ready for government in 2021, and urged her party earlier this year to exclude members who expressed extremist views.

"We think this country urgently needs political change, but we no longer consider our party in a position to take it in hand" after months of infighting, she said Tuesday.

"Of course, I want to continue pushing for political change in 2021 as an individual lawmaker, and perhaps later in a different configuration that it's far too early to speak about," she added.

Petry had already announced Monday that she wouldn't join the party's parliamentary group, but left her future open. Other leaders then urged her to leave the party altogether.

Her husband, Marcus Pretzell, the party leader in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia and a regional lawmaker there, told The Associated Press that he is also leaving AfD.

AfD won 94 of the 709 seats in the new German parliament, including Petry's. It wasn't immediately clear whether any other federal lawmakers would follow her departure.