Far-right leader un­veils ‘Blue Party’

Bangkok Post - - WORLD -

BER­LIN: Frauke Petry, the for­mer coleader of the far right Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many (AfD), was to un­veil her new “Blue Party” later yes­ter­day, promis­ing a “rea­son­able con­ser­va­tive” agenda that would ap­peal to a broad base of Ger­mans, she told a news­pa­per group.

Ms Petry, a 42-year-old chemist, was for a time the most vis­i­ble face of the AfD, help­ing to build the pub­lic ap­peal that saw it win 12.6% of the vote last month and be­come the first far right group in the Ger­man par­lia­ment since the 1960s.

But although she has long es­poused strong anti-im­mi­grant views, she be­rated other lead­ing fig­ures in the AfD for hold­ing po­si­tions too far out­side the main­stream and mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble for the party to join a coali­tion gov­ern­ment.

Dur­ing the months lead­ing up to the elec­tion she took a lower-pro­file role in cam­paign­ing, all but van­ish­ing from TV screens as more rad­i­cal fig­ures be­came the party’s pub­lic faces.

She won a seat in par­lia­ment on the AfD’s list last month, but quit the party the next day in a sur­prise an­nounce­ment at its vic­tory press con­fer­ence, pledg­ing to sit in par­lia­ment ini­tially as an in­de­pen­dent.

She told RND news­pa­per group in an in­ter­view pub­lished late on Thurs­day that she would hold a small ini­tial event to an­nounce her new Blue Party in her home state of Sax­ony in the for­mer com­mu­nist East.

More ral­lies would fol­low around the coun­try from Novem­ber un­der the ban­ner of “Blue Change” or “Blaue Wende”, she said. Wende is the term widely used to de­scribe the dra­matic shift in Ger­man so­ci­ety af­ter the fall of the Ber­lin Wall in 1989.

“Blue stands for con­ser­va­tive, but also lib­eral poli­cies in Ger­many and in Europe,” she told RND, adding that her new group would seek to repli­cate the suc­cess of the Chris­tian So­cial Union (CSU), the Bavar­ian sis­ter party of Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s con­ser­va­tives, on a na­tional level.

The CSU, part of Ms Merkel’s con­ser­va­tive bloc in par­lia­ment, has taken a harder line than Ms Merkel’s own Chris­tian Demo­cratic Union over im­mi­gra­tion, but fields can­di­dates only in Bavaria.

“Ev­ery third Ger­man would like a rea­son­able, con­ser­va­tive po­lit­i­cal of­fer­ing,” she said, adding that many frus­trated vot­ers had sup­ported the pro-busi­ness Free Democrats, the AfD or Ms Merkel’s CDU on Sept 24 for lack of a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive.

Ms Petry said she had be­gun work­ing on plans for her new party as early as Au­gust, af­ter AfD mem­bers re­fused to ac­cept her more mod­er­ate pro­pos­als at a party congress in Cologne.

Ms Petry de­fended her de­ci­sion to quit the AfD while keep­ing her seat won on its list.

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