German populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD) rejected a proposal to go “mainstream” Saturday at the party’s convention in Cologne.
The party has suffered declining poll numbers in 2017, which led co-leader Frauke Petry to put forth a proposal to reject “extremist voices” and move closer to the center. The motion was defeated after delegates refused to even discuss it.
AfD was founded in 2013 as an anti-EU party. It rose to significance during the migrant crisis in 2015 when it took on issues of immigration and German culture. Petry recently announced she won’t be on the party’s ticket in the general election this September.
“I will step aside during the campaign, as that’s what the party congress apparently wants,” Petry said, according to AFP. “As long as the party is not willing to say in what direction it wants to go, a team will have to lead the campaign that can deal with this indecision better than I can.”
The city of Cologne became no-fly zone over the weekend as a security measure during the conference. Up to 50,000 protesters were expected but police reported a crowd of no more than 15,000. More than 4,000 police officers were deployed, two of whom were injured in clashes with protestors.
An Emnid poll released April 18 put AfD at 9 percent. Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (35 percent) holds on to a narrow lead over The Social Democrats (31 percent).
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