Co-party leader Petry obviously could not get her way. Bjorn Hocke may remain an AfD member. This was decided by the party executive in a conference call.
Got away with it again: Bjorn Hocke may remain a party member Photo: imago/Jacob Schroter
Thuringia AfD chairman Bjorn Hocke does not have to leave the party despite his controversial statements on Germany’s understanding of history. This was decided by the AfD party executive board on Monday after a three-hour conference call. However, according to party circles and also reported by the Bild newspaper and ARD, the board accused Hocke of party-damaging behavior.
According to the ARD report, a party expulsion procedure did not find a majority in the board. However, broadcaster MDR quoted Petry as saying, "The Federal Executive Board has determined that Bjorn Hocke’s statements in the context of his ‘Dresden speech’ on January 17, 2017, have damaged the party’s reputation." Therefore, it is considered necessary to initiate partisan "measures of order". All legal and political aspects to be considered would be examined.
The newspapers B.Z. and Bild reported that the AfD executive committee had voted ten to three in favor of such disciplinary measures against Hocke.
Party leader Frauke Petry had already declared last week that Hocke was a "burden on the party." Last Friday, the AfD leadership had reportedly discussed a possible expulsion of Hocke from the party.
As reported by the taz, an internal Facebook group of the far-right "Patriotic Platform" reported a vote in the AfD executive board meeting against Hocke. "8:3" the vote last Friday is said to have turned out to his disadvantage, the group says. Only three of federal leader Frauke Petry’s fiercest opponents would have voted in favor of Hocke: her co-chairs Jorg Meuthen and the state leaders of Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg, Alexander Gauland and Andre Poggenburg.
Hocke belongs to the right-wing nationalist wing of the AfD. He had given a speech on patriotism last Tuesday in Dresden, where Petry heads the AfD state parliamentary group. In it, he called for a "180-degree turnaround in remembrance policy." About the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, he said, "We Germans, that is, our people, are the only people in the world who have planted a monument of shame in the heart of their capital."
According to a video circulating on the Internet, he also spoke of a "stupid coping policy" and called for a "180-degree turnaround in remembrance policy." These remarks were met with massive criticism.