It is not a new finding that acting skills are required if you want to be politically successful. The idea that the old and new AfD federal spokesman Tino Chrupalla presented shortly after his re-election to the head of the party provided the best evidence of this. “Today the AfD begins to emerge,” Chrupalla explained to the assembled press, accompanied by his closer management team, and visibly tried to be persuasive. “The Meuthen era ended today,” Chrupalla said – just as if he wanted to distract himself from himself.
Above all, it was Chrupalla, who personally narrowly missed the complete opposite of a departure on Saturday. The member of the Bundestag, who grew up around 120 kilometers as the crow flies from Riesa in Saxony, where the federal party conference took place for the second time, was confirmed in the office of federal spokesman. However, Chrupalla only achieved 53.45 percent of the votes and thus a narrow majority.
His opponent, Norbert Kleinwaechter from Bavaria, received 36.3 percent of the votes and thus achieved a significantly better result than many had previously believed him capable of. In the run-up to the party congress, it was said that his attack on the party leader, which was carried out with the now former deputy AfD leader Joana Cotar, was too clumsy.
However, Kleinwächter, who is Chrupalla’s deputy in the Bundestag faction, gave a combative speech, which was applauded standing by individual delegates. The fact that a little more than ten percent of the delegates did not want to see either of the two as party leaders must also give Chrupalla more food for thought as a small guard. He takes note of that, Chrupalla said tight-lipped when asked.
At that moment, Alice Weidel, his counterpart, was at his side and now acts on an equal footing with Chrupalla both in the parliamentary group and in the federal party.
Weidel, who had been co-spokeswoman for the party on the old federal executive board, received 67.3 percent of the vote. She clearly prevailed over Nicolaus Fest, MEP who recently moved to Croatia and was formerly based in Berlin. After a weak speech, he only got 20.75 percent of the votes. The three deputies of Chrupalla and Weidel are called Stephan Brandner, Peter Boehringer and Mariana Harder-Kühnel.
After the election of the leading duo and the deputies, there were no two opinions on the question, which was hotly debated in the run-up to the party congress, as to which of the two camps of radical and supposedly moderate representatives of the party, who were ultimately irreconcilably opposed, would prevail in the end.
With the exception of Harder-Kühnel, member of the Hessian Bundestag, who cannot be clearly assigned to either camp, the more radical forces had prevailed without exception. There was talk of a “march-through” of the officially dissolved wing.
This is supported by the fact that the previous practice of providing both camps with one speaker post each has actually been abandoned. Neither Chrupalla nor Weidel have recently opposed the wing’s claim to power and will not do so in the future either. The second row, above all Brandner, who is considered a close confidant of the AfD right-wing extremist Björn Höcke, is too clearly located for that.
Representatives of the party wing, which sees itself as moderate, conceded behind closed doors that their own current is simply lacking in competitive personnel proposals. The view goes to the board election in two years, it said. Chrupalla, who was damaged despite his re-election, should then have little chance of success.
As always at federal AfD party conferences, the shadow of the Thuringian state leader and right-wing extremist of the party, Björn Höcke, hovered over the assembly. After he had already achieved a first point victory on Friday by successfully changing the statutes to ensure that the party can also be led by a single leader in the future, he was conciliatory on Saturday.
“Now it’s still too early,” explained Höcke and immediately thereafter campaigned for the re-election of a dual leadership. The decision to choose a duo was made immediately with a clear majority. The big showdown, which is traditionally the subject of heated speculation in the party and the public before party conferences, was canceled this time as well.
The challenge for Chrupalla and Weidel, who are now acting as dual leaders in both the faction and the party, is now to unite the last split party. The first meeting of the party’s new federal executive committee is scheduled for the beginning of the week, Chrupalla said.
From day one, the principle of unity and cooperation, to which all members of the body have committed themselves, applies, he said. He has to hope that these announcements were serious and not just skilful acting.