Auteur: Peter Teffer
The third-largest political group in the European Parliament has expelled the remaining member of the German anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD).
A motion to expel the AfD was supported by 45 members of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group on Tuesday (12 April). Thirteen ECR members voted against, while five abstained.
In effect, MEP Marcus Pretzell is now without a political home, joining 15 other so-called non-attached members like French former National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen and Polish eurosceptic Janusz Korwin-Mikke, infamous for giving a Nazi salute during a debate.
According to German ECR member Arne Gericke, one of the two authors of the motion, the expulsion had been a done deal, after the AfD's “tendency to radicalise” in the past months.
Statements about using armed violence to prevent illegal migrants entering the country, and an announcement to work closer with the far right Austrian People's Party, were the main straws that broke the ECR's camel's back.
In a press statement, Gericke said Pretzell had become a political “enfant terrible”.
For his part, Pretzell wrote on social media that the vote would “promise a lot of fun in the ECR the coming weeks”.
“I'll leave, dear ECR”, he wrote.
The vote was announced last month in Strasbourg, after the ECR's leadership asked the two AfD members to leave on their own accord.
Pretzell's AfD colleague, Beatrix Von Storch, waited until last Friday (8 April) to leave the ECR, home the the UK's Conservatives and Poland's Law and Justice party. She became a member of the more hardcore eurosceptic group, Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy, which includes the UK Independence Party and the Italian Five Star Movement.
The quarrel in Strasbourg and Brussels meanwhile has seemingly had little effect on the AfD's popularity in Germany.
Also on Tuesday, the regional parliament of Saxony-Anhalt met for the first time, since March's elections in which the AfD became the second-largest party.