Germany’s anti-immigration party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has been plunged into a leadership crisis over antisemitic views expressed by one of its MPs.
Thirteen members of the AfD, including the co-leader of the party that is currently polling between 9% and 14%, walked out of its parliamentary group in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg on Wednesday in protest at the failure to expel fellow MP Wolfgang Gedeon.
Comments made by Gedeon in a book published in 2012 surfaced in the media after he entered state parliament following regional elections in March.
In the book, entitled Green Communism and the Dictatorship of Minorities, Gedeon compares Holocaust deniers such as David Irving to Chinese dissidents, claiming, among other things, that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a faked historical pamphlet purporting to outline a Jewish plan to control the global economy and media, were in fact real.
Holocaust denial is a criminal offence in Germany.
In the wake of the scandal, AfD’s co-leader, Jörg Meuthen, called for a zero-tolerance policy against antisemitism within his party but failed to gain the two thirds majority required to expel Gedeon from the party.
“I don’t know how you can be in two minds about this. Anyone who reads this can see it is clearly antisemitic,” Meuthen told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “We are Alternative for Germany, the others are antisemites for Germany,” the paper quotes another spokesperson as saying.
Gedeon eventually resigned from the party on Tuesday – too late to avert the walkout on Wednesday.