Alternative for Germany’s historic win has been marred by infighting within the party; chair Frauke Petry is being urged to leave for the good of the party after dramatically announcing her intention to sit in the Bundestag independently.

Alternative for Germany (AfD) was the biggest winner in Sunday’s elections, entering the Bundestag for the first time with 12.6% of the vote as Germany’s main parties suffered historic losses.

AfD party chair and spokeswoman Frauke Petry had another surprise in store at the party’s Bundestag press conference on Monday which she attended with the party’s leading candidates for the Bundestag, Alexander Gauland and Alice Weidel. 

Petry announced that “after long deliberation” she will not be a member of the AfD in the Bundestag, but rather an independent MP, in order to pursue “realpolitik in the best sense of conservative policy.” 

Petry refused to answer further questions and left her former colleagues at the presser. Alice Weidel was unimpressed at Petry’s performance and called on her to leave the party altogether.

“After Frauke Petry’s latest fracas, whose irresponsibility can hardly be surpassed, I urge her to leave her post as spokesperson and leave the party to prevent further harm,” Weidel said.

Petry has been co-chair and spokesperson for AfD at the federal level since 2015. She shares her duties with Joerg Meuthen, who described Petry’s announcement as a “bomb that I also had no [prior] knowledge about,” and offered apologies to those present. 

Back in April, following disagreements with other senior AfD figures over the party’s strategy, Petry had announced that she won’t be one of the party’s leading candidates for the Bundestag, which led to speculation over her long-term future.

Most political parties in Germany put forward lead candidates in order to better connect with the electorate at election time, although their official status is the same as any other parliamentary candidate. 

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