In Saalfeld-Rudolstadt, there were two competing AfD lists in the district council election. The one promoted by right-wing AfD member Björn Höcke performed worse. An election challenge is now being prepared.

The Thuringian AfD says it is preparing to challenge the district council election in Saalfeld-Rudolstadt. Thuringia’s AfD deputy leader Torben Braga announced this on Wednesday at the state press conference in Erfurt. “The main thing must be that an election took place here under false conditions, under false premises. In our opinion, the voters were objectively deceived,” said Braga.

The background is a local dispute within the AfD that broke out weeks before the election over a list of candidates for the district council election. The Thuringian AfD regional association with its leader Björn Höcke wanted to have the list that had already been drawn up cancelled and a new one drawn up. But the candidates refused. Finally, a second, competing AfD list was drawn up – an alternative for the district. This led to the bizarre situation that AfD regional party leader Höcke supported the AfD list instead of the one with the official AfD name. After all voting districts had been counted, the list around Frosch ended up with 18.6 percent, ahead of the AfD list with 13.7 percent.

Braga said that the point was that a party could not be abused “for personal purposes and for the personal sensitivities of a handful of people.” If the dispute were to be prolonged by the challenge, this would have to be accepted, in his view. According to him, a two-week period for contesting the election would begin with the announcement of the election result. “This election challenge is currently being prepared,” said Braga. It could only be brought in by eligible voters on site. AfD members have agreed to do so.

Expulsion proceedings were initiated against several members of the AfD list around state parliament member Karlheinz Frosch. In turn, Frosch’s camp called for Höcke to resign. Frosch himself announced one day after the election that he was leaving the party and the state parliament group.

Frosch was the oldest member of parliament at the first session of the state parliament after the 2019 election and was therefore responsible for the processes of constituting the newly elected parliament. He is not the first person to leave the AfD parliamentary group. Over the years, a number of MPs have left the parliamentary group led by Höcke. As a result, Höcke lost his status as head of the strongest opposition parliamentary group because the CDU now has significantly more seats in the state parliament than the AfD.

The Thuringian AfD is classified as definitely right-wing extremist by the state’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution and is being monitored. State elections are scheduled for September 1 in Thuringia.