Correspondent in Berlin
Contested in the German streets, the far-right AfD party is working to plug another breach by trying to reassure its French allies from the National Rally in the European Parliament who are worried about the radical turn taken by its neighbor. The leader of the party in the European elections, Maximilian Krach, is increasing his discussions with his RN counterpart, Jean-Paul Garraud, the last of which took place on Wednesday in Strasbourg during a plenary session of the Assembly. The objective aims to deny any involvement of the party in a “remigration” project likely to lead to the expulsion of German citizens with immigrant backgrounds and deemed undesirable.
The publication, in mid-January, of an article reporting a meeting to this effect, in Potsdam, of the German extreme right, in which members of the AfD participated, provoked a very strong reaction from society civil – 150,000 people gathered in Berlin on February 3. It also forced Marine le Pen to distance herself from her German ally, within the European parliamentary group Identity and Democracy. “Totally disagree with these proposals”, the president of the RN questioned the “capacity” of the two parties to overcome their “differences” and “ally in the same group”, a few months before the European elections.
“We have been working for years in close collaboration and in complete trust and there is no reason to change anything,” pleads to Le Figaro the head of the AfD, Maximilan Krah, for whom the projects attributed to the AfD are the result of a “private meeting” and do not bind the party. A few days ago, the latter had already given an explanation of the text around the concept of “remigration” which appears in its European platform.
If the AfD sees in Syrian and Afghan refugees "a great potential for remigration", in particular, among "extremists, serious criminals, drug addicts and sex offenders", this kind of operations is only envisaged in compliance with the “constitution” and cannot concern “German citizens with immigrant backgrounds”. Those who are “well integrated” – and there are “many” – are expressly welcome, the party tried to correct, echoing the words of Marine Le Pen. The latter says it wants to defend “all French people, whatever their conditions of acquisition of nationality”. Furthermore, the AfD advisor present at the Potsdam meeting was dismissed from his post.
Asked many times by Le Figaro, the leader of the RN in Parliament, Jean Paul Garraud, made no comment on the negotiations aimed at keeping the AfD on board the Identity and Democracy group. The party’s official explanations have not dissuaded some officials from plowing the furrow of the “remigration” project. “We will send millions of foreigners back to their countries. This is not a secret plan but a promise,” AfD Bundestag MP René Springer wrote on X. Furthermore, the co-president of the party, Alice Weidel, suggested the possibility of a “Dexit”, an exit from the European Union whose principle contravenes the RN program. Another project whose scope Maximilian Krach is today trying to minimize.
The latter also remains a controversial figure within the RN, he who called for voting for Eric Zemmour rather than Marine le Pen in the last French presidential election. After the Potsdam meeting, the former also criticized the latter for wanting to “teach a lesson” to the Germans. Maximilan Krah embodies the radicalization movement of the party made official during its last congress, last summer. “The AfD is the most exciting party in Europe. Everywhere we are told that we must assimilate politically to achieve success, renounce the real alternative to join a Union of values. But the path towards the center proposed by the Italian post-fascists or the RN does not work,” declared the person concerned.
If the party officially and discreetly joined the Identity and Democracy Party less than two months ago – in addition to belonging to the parliamentary faction of the same name – the RN and the AfD should campaign in the European elections on their own colors. “For the moment, the initiative is still at the level of national parties,” confirms Maximilian Krach. Each in their country, the AfD and the RN are prance in the polls. But if in Germany, the first remains marginalized in public debate and is the subject of calls for a ban, the second, in France is now well rooted in the political landscape. At least a good reason for the National Rally to want to keep some distance.