After the affairs surrounding the top candidates Krah and Bystron, the other right-wing members of the European Parliament are distancing themselves. Marine Le Pen will also have her own interests in mind.

The entire AfD delegation has been expelled from the “Identity and Democracy” (ID) group in the European Parliament. This was recently announced by the Italian Lega party, whose MP Marco Zanni chairs the group. This means that the alternative for Germany is slipping even deeper into a veritable existential crisis.

Previously, the AfD delegation in the European Parliament had requested the exclusion of MP Maximilian Krah, his party’s top candidate for the European elections on 9 June, with seven out of nine votes. But that is obviously no longer enough for the ID – its previous allies want the departure of the entire AfD.

For weeks, headlines about possible bribes from abroad, the suspicion of espionage against a Krah employee and, most recently, the allegations of trivializing National Socialism have kept the AfD in the headlines.

Krah had therefore already announced his complete withdrawal from the European election campaign – an unusual step for a top candidate. Krah also gave up his seat on the federal executive committee and declared that he did not want to run for the party’s leadership committee again.

And on Thursday, after Krah, Bundestag member Petr Bystron, ranked number two on the European election list, announced his complete withdrawal from the election campaign. Bystron is also being investigated on suspicion of bribery and money laundering. In Bystron’s home, police officers seized serial numbers from gold bars and bank statements from foreign accounts. The AfD MP denies any wrongdoing and says he can explain everything.

The ID Group’s motion to exclude the AfD delegation states: “In view of the series of incidents involving Mr Maximilian Krah and, more broadly, the German delegation of the Group, and considering that these incidents have damaged the cohesion and reputation of the Group, the Bureau, at the request of its President, decides to terminate the membership of the members of the German delegation.”

The exclusion of the AfD became apparent after the French party “Rassemblement National” led by Marine Le Pen ruled out a new parliamentary group for the period after the European elections. “The AfD has crossed red lines. After the European elections, we will have new allies and will no longer be in a parliamentary group with the AfD,” said Jordan Bardella, top candidate and chairman of the RN, in an interview with a French broadcaster.

In polls for the European elections on June 9th, Bardella is well at the top with around 32 percent. Le Pen, who previously led the RN, wants to improve her image to that of a moderate right-wing politician and replace President Emmanuel Macron in the 2027 elections; In this situation, the AfD with errant loudspeakers like Krah (“Feminists are all ugly and horrible.”) is clearly too dubious for her.

Le Pen will also have noted that Krah did not support her in the 2022 French presidential election campaign, but rather her competitor Éric Zemmour. This certainly had no impact on Macron’s 58.5 to 41.5 percent victory, but it confirms the old saying that in life you always see yourself twice.

The post-fascist Fratelli d’Italia (FdI) of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni had already distanced itself from the AfD much earlier. Its representatives belong to the right-wing national ECR group (European Conservatives and Reformers) in the European Parliament.

The relationship between Meloni and Le Pen is considered to be extremely bad, but the Frenchwoman seems to have long since considered that working with a European Prime Minister would bring her RN significantly more reputation than with parties like the AfD. That’s why it’s entirely possible that the RN and FdI will find themselves in a joint parliamentary group after the elections on June 9th – and then without AfD MPs.

Krah was elected to the European Parliament in 2019 in third place on the list. In July 2023, at the Magdeburg European Party Conference, he was named the top candidate for the election on June 9th. Krah made headlines in April when one of his employees in Brussels, the Chinese-born German Jian G., was arrested on charges of spying for China and taken into custody.

Krah, in turn, accuses German security authorities of having been watching G. for a long time, but not warning him, Krah, when he hired G. in his office.

In addition, on April 24, the Dresden Public Prosecutor’s Office initiated two preliminary investigations against Krah on suspicion of accepting money payments from abroad. Krah firmly denies the allegations.

But for the AfD board led by Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla, the investigations were reason enough to immediately exclude Krah from all appointments for the European election campaign.

But that didn’t stop the negative headlines. In an interview with the Italian newspaper “La Repubblica” recently, Krah said: “I will never say that anyone who wore an SS uniform was automatically a criminal.”

Given that the Nazi “Schutzstaffel” had around 900,000 members at the end of the war, guilt must be assessed on a case-by-case basis: “Even Günter Grass belonged to the Waffen-SS.” Krah described some members of the formally independent Waffen-SS as “honourable soldiers” who had simply fulfilled their duty in the war.

In fact, previous Chancellors, including the Social Democrat Helmut Schmidt, have distinguished between the actual SS and the Waffen-SS. But the Waffen-SS were not only fighting soldier units; they also provided guards for concentration and extermination camps and took part in mass killings.

Especially since the 1980s, military history research in West Germany has examined the different fields of deployment of the Waffen-SS in more detail, writes historian Sven-Felix Kellerhoff in the WELT: “Waffen-SS men were also regularly seconded to guard duty in concentration camps, but were rarely deployed directly in the prisoner areas – this remained the responsibility of the special camp SS.”

Kellerhoff’s conclusion: “Was the SS criminal in itself? The answer is clear: yes. There is absolutely nothing to put into perspective about the SS and the Waffen-SS.”

The AfD is now presumably the first party to have to hide two top candidates until the polls. Like Bystron, Krah is still likely to be elected to parliament. Because initially the presumption of innocence applies, and it is far too late to change the list of candidates. In the polls for the European elections, the AfD is currently at 15 percent. In July last year, however, according to pollsters, it was still 23 percent.

The original for this article “The AfD is sliding ever deeper into an existential crisis” comes from The European.