Berlin – More border controls, help for apprentices – after the AfD remained largely silent at the beginning of the Corona crisis, concrete suggestions are now being made regarding crisis management. However, right-wing populists are by no means in agreement.
Neither in the assessment of the threat from the virus nor in the assessment of the Federal Government’s measures to slow the spread of the lung disease COVID-19.
While some AfD members are alarmed and strictly adhere to the federal government’s guidelines, others are skeptical, reminding them of the party’s stance on human-made climate change. “As in the population as a whole, there are people in our group who think we are dealing with a normal flu episode,” said Alice Weidel, chairwoman of the parliamentary group.
Party leader Jorg Meuthen also wants more awareness of the problem at this point. He says: “”I believe that there are many in the AfD who value the risk posed by this pandemic, but there are certainly some among us who saw it a little too careless at the beginning.”
The most recent internal debates in the AfD were on Friday when a quarter of the members of the parliamentary group pushed through that a parliamentary group meeting should be held in Berlin next Tuesday. Agenda items: “Further action in the corona crisis” and “Exit strategy”.
“I will only take part if it is ensured that a sufficiently large room will be found,” explains a representative from North Rhine-Westphalia. Weidel says: “I would have found it better if we had called our parliamentary meeting for the week after Easter – even though it is, of course, important that we bundle our proposals for an exit strategy.”
Already in the past week of the meeting, the AfD parliamentary group – unlike the other parliamentary groups – had gathered in its hall as usual. Only the distance between the deputies remained somewhat larger than usual. On Tuesday, the members of the AfD parliamentary group in the Bundestag are to meet in two separate rooms.
In view of the far-reaching contact restrictions that have been decided by the federal and state governments, a meeting of several dozen politicians is a signal to the population that not everyone in the group finds it good either. Especially after the federal government had expressly appealed to all citizens to refrain from excursions and other trips even over the Easter holidays. “Should I be unable to be there, I will take part in the discussion by telephone,” says Weidel.
The party’s co-chair, Tino Chrupalla, believes that the Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) also “reacted much too late”. The member of the Bundestag said: “This is one reason for the current bottlenecks in protective equipment.”
In the drafting of a speaker from the AfD parliamentary group on March 24, it says: “”There is much to suggest that overall mortality in Germany will not increase significantly due to the coronavirus.” The author believes that the media and politicians have deliberately distributed incorrect numbers in connection with the pandemic, “which leads to considerable uncertainty among the population”.
Weidel sees it differently. She says: “We supported the government’s package of measures because we consider it necessary overall.” However, the restrictions contained therein are so far-reaching that it has to be checked at very close intervals whether they are still appropriate.
What Weidel does not say: In the decisive Bundestag vote to lift the debt brake in the Basic Law – the prerequisite for the billions of aid packages – the AfD refused. All 3 votes against and 54 of the 55 abstentions came from her group. For comparison: Even the Left, Greens and FDP unanimously voted for it.
Corona times are difficult times for many people. The AfD politicians also suffer from internal quarrels and bad poll values. The ARD Germany trend recently saw the vote share for the party nationwide at only ten percent. “The drop in survey values doesn’t shock me,” says Chrupalla. «Times of crisis are not times when the opposition can score. It’s not just the AfD’s case. »
It is unusual, however, for a chairman to think publicly about whether his party’s different currents should not go their separate ways in the future. Even an AfD member who shares Meuthen’s skepticism about the wing of the Thuringian AfD country chief Bjorn Hocke, which is classified as an extreme right by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, says that the timing for such mind games was not chosen favorably. Weidel finds clearer words. She explains: “I have no understanding that our party chairman started a debate about a possible division of the AfD, which costs a lot of energy, in a time so difficult for Germany.”