German Euroskeptics Asked to Leave British-Led Group

The third-largest bloc in the European Parliament asks two Germans to resign after controversial comments.

Syed Kamall, the British leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists, makes a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, April 29, 2015
Syed Kamall, the British leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists, makes a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, April 29, 2015 (European Parliament)

Two members of the Alternative für Deutschland party have been asked to leave the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European Parliament.

A spokesman for the bloc said Beatrix von Storch and Marcus Pretzell, the German party’s two remaining members in the Strasbourg-based legislature, would be given a month to resign.

Von Storch alleged a deal between British and German leaders David Cameron and Angela Merkel. The former’s Conservative Party is the largest in the ECR; the latter is contesting state elections this weekend in which the Alternative is expected to do well. How such a conspiracy would help Merkel’s Christian Democrats, Von Storch did not say, though.

The more likely reason for her dismissal and Pretzell’s was a suggestion from Von Storch’s party leader, Frauke Petry, that German police should be allowed to shoot migrants who try to enter Germany illegally.

Radicalized

When the ECR admitted the Alternative in 2014 after the party won seven German seats in the European elections that year, it was something of a coup. By letting the Germans into the mildly Euroskeptic bloc, it became the third-largest, surpassing the liberals and Greens, and the move denied more radical Euroskeptic parties from Austria, France and the Netherlands the chance to form a group of their own.

Since then, the Alternative has moved further to the right.

A leadership election in the summer of 2015 removed Bernd Lucke, who had started the party a year earlier in response to Merkel’s claim that there was “no alternative” to bailing out weaker eurozone nations like Greece, in favor of Petry, a Dresden-born nativist who has spoken critically of Islam and favorably of Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin.

Five of the party’s seven members in the European Parliament split in protest and formed their own group, which is still part of the ECR and led, from Germany, by Lucke.