Far-right European lawmakers remove German AfD party ahead of elections

A far-right group in the European Parliament announced Thursday that it had ousted the Alternative for Germany party from its coalition, dealing a blow to a key alliance just two weeks before European parliamentary elections.

In a statement on its official account

In an interview last week, Krah appeared to downplay crimes committed by the SS, the Nazi paramilitary force that killed millions of people during the Holocaust. “A million soldiers wore the SS uniform,” Krah told La Repubblica and the Financial Times in a joint interview. “Can you really say that because someone was a Waffen-SS officer, he was a criminal? Individual guilt must be established.”

In its statement, Identity and Democracy wrote that it “no longer wants to be associated with the incidents involving Maximilian Krah, head of the AfD list for the European elections”.

The AfD's exclusion from the group, which includes the League party in Italy and the National Rally party in France, is a sign that the AfD's internal problems are starting to spill over into European Union politics.

The fact that Identity and Democracy moved to remove the AfD before the election suggests that other far-right parties in Europe feared that the German delegation had become an obstacle. There are 27 member states that make up the European Union. Around 400 million voters can elect the 705 deputies of the European Parliament. Far-right parties are expected to win a record number of votes.

Jordan Bardella, head of the National Rally, reacted quickly to Krah's comments, telling France's TF1 that the AfD had “crossed the red lines” and promising that his party would “no longer sit next to the AfD.”

Mr Krah has been at the center of several recent scandals in Germany. After the party held an emergency meeting this week, Krah said he would leave the AfD steering committee. He will also stop campaigning.

“This represents a significant loss of power,” Hajo Funke, an analyst who focuses on right-wing extremism in Germany, said of the AfD's ouster. “Without a group, the AfD is even more isolated than it already is.”

Krah's interview was the latest of several blows dealt to the AfD. In January, hundreds of thousands of Germans took to the streets after an investigation revealed a secret meeting between AfD leaders and far-right extremists in which they discussed organizing mass deportations.

Last month, an aide to Mr Krah was arrested on suspicion of being a Chinese government agent. Although Mr. Krah has not been charged, authorities have searched his office, raising speculation that he may also be under investigation.

This month police searched the offices of Petr Bystron, the AfD's second-largest member in the European elections. Mr. Bystron is under investigation for receiving funds from Russia. Like Krah, Bystron was dropped from the campaign.

Both men are expected to win a seat in the European Parliament next month, but their power will be greatly reduced unless they can put together their own coalition.

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