The AfD may be thrown out of its hall for the party conference in June. At least that’s what the city of Essen is planning, as FOCUS Online learned exclusively. While the Ruhr metropolis could breathe a sigh of relief, the party would face major problems.

The past week was not a good one, AfD leader Alice Weidel summed up at the weekend in view of a series of scandals. Shortly before the European elections, the party leadership could now face another restless week.

 The AfD federal party conference in 2024 may not take place as planned. The Essen city council is expected to vote on Wednesday to kick the party out of its convention hall. FOCUS Online learned this exclusively from people familiar with the template.

The AfD actually wants to host its party conference from June 28th to 30th in the Ruhr metropolis – as it did in the Grugahalle in 2015. The responsible trade fair company had concluded the contract with the party.

Because other parties such as the CDU and SPD have already held their party conferences in the hall, they felt obliged to make the venue available to the AfD due to the so-called “contracting obligation”.

When both the contract and the AfD’s Potsdam remigration meeting became known in January, the exhibition company’s supervisory board felt compelled to review the rental. The mayor of Essen, Thomas Kufen (CDU), said at the time: “In view of the current developments surrounding the party, holding the party conference is unthinkable for me.”

The argument: Due to the sudden large-scale demonstrations against the AfD, Kufen felt that “public order and security” could not be guaranteed. According to estimates, around 80,000 people could demonstrate against the AfD party conference. A large police presence would be necessary to ensure order.

A broad alliance of parties, unions and churches has called for peaceful protests. However, it cannot be ruled out that some demonstrators want to directly disrupt the party conference. In addition, people in the Ruhr region are particularly cautious when there are large crowds on the streets. At the Love Parade in Duisburg in 2010, 21 people died due to a mass panic. In the aftermath, there was severe criticism of an inadequate security concept.

However, the trade fair supervisory board’s review initially did not lead to any rejection because there were fears of legal difficulties: the Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia had decided in a similar case at the beginning of February that a municipality must make its community center available to the AfD.

A month before the party conference, the matter is now getting rolling again. Mayor Kufen wants to introduce a proposal to the city council that is intended to prevent the Essen party conference with a new argument: “We have noticed that an increasing radicalization of significant parts of the AfD has been observed since the contract was signed,” said Kufen when asked by FOCUS Online.

The argument goes that the party’s language has also become more extreme. It can therefore be assumed that there is a high probability that crimes will occur at the party conference – in a building in the city.

It is therefore conceivable, for example, that Nazi slogans could be used in speeches, as Thuringian AfD leader Björn Höcke did, for example. He was convicted by the Halle (Saale) regional court for proclaiming “Everything for Germany”. The city of Essen sees itself as having a duty to prevent such conceivable incidents. Kufen demands that something like this not happen again: “The party has to take care of that. Otherwise we will not be able to make the Grugahalle available.”

The Essen Green parliamentary group is currently examining whether it will agree to the mayor’s proposal. Important: The expulsion must be legally watertight. “Any success of the AfD in court must be avoided at all costs,” said parliamentary group leader Sandra Schumacher to FOCUS Online. “It is a difficult decision that we now have to make. It is of course our goal to fight the AfD, but we have to choose the means carefully.”

The Greens form an alliance with Mayor Kufen’s CDU in the Essen city council. If the two groups agree to the proposal, it would receive a majority. The SPD, which is strongly represented in the council, could also possibly support the application.

Being kicked out of the Grugahalle would pose major problems for the AfD: around a month before the party conference, it would probably be difficult to find a suitable replacement hall. The party is expecting around 600 delegates, plus press representatives and helpers. But it’s not just about the venue, hotels and travel would also have to be rebooked. All of this would affect the party financially.

If the party conference had to be postponed, the AfD would potentially suffer political damage. After numerous scandals involving, among others, Björn Höcke, Maximilian Krah and Petr Bystron, the party executive board could not reorganize itself through elections. Important decisions for the state elections in the fall and the federal elections next year would have to be postponed.

The city of Essen, on the other hand, could breathe a sigh of relief. According to a report in the “Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung”, the plan was to close the entire Grugapark and Grugabad when the party conference took place. In addition, a street was to be made accessible only to AfD delegates. This would have significantly restricted the city’s citizens, and almost an entire district would have been a no-go zone for at least three days.

In the event of a cancellation, the security forces in the Ruhr area could concentrate entirely on the European Football Championship taking place at that time. The games are played in Essen’s neighboring cities of Gelsenkirchen and Dortmund, among others.

But one thing will still disappoint football fans: According to the “Westdeutsche Allgemeiner Zeitung”, a national team had canceled its accommodation in Essen because of the AfD party conference – the team would stay away from the event even if the event was canceled.