22.06.2024 Author: Ricardo Nuno Costa

Krah, Le Pen, the «Chinese spy» and the stab in the back

Krah, Le Pen, the «Chinese spy» and the stab in the back

With a discourse against immigration and war, the AfD is the big winner of the European elections in Germany, but this could turn against itself.

It’s safe to say that the AfD was one of the big winners of the European elections in Germany. The far-right party increased its vote by around 5 per cent, both compared to 2019 and the 2021 general election, making it the second political force in the country (15.9 per cent), behind only the CDU/CSU (30 per cent). In addition, it overtook the Greens (11 per cent among young people) in the youth vote (16-24 year olds) – for the first time, 16-year-olds were included in these elections – and took the lead in this segment with 17 per cent.

The AfD’s run was not without controversy, as the mainstream media orchestrated a campaign that clearly targeted some of its representatives, in particular its front-runner in Brussels, Maximilian Krah. Now, all this could turn against unity at the party’s national congress this weekend.

Scandals fuelled by the press

The first scandal the press linked to the AfD this year was the revelation in January of the secret meeting of some party members and other representatives of the far right, but also of the mainstream CDU, which took place in Potsdam at the end of November 2023 to discuss a ‘master plan for remigration’. This would be a project for the massive expulsion and deportation of immigrants living in Germany.

The immediate consequence was a debate on banning the AfD – strangely, no one thought to discuss banning the CDU – and a national campaign against racism and the far right on all fronts. Externally, Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Rally (RN), demanded that her German counterparts in the European Parliament’s Democracy and Identity (ID) group distance themselves from the term ‘Remigration’, which had already been included and popularised in their European election programme. 

The «Chinese spy» case

In April, German police raided the home of Jian G., an advisor to Krah’s team, and arrested him on charges of passing information from the EP to a Chinese intelligence agency. Nothing has been proven, except that the Chinese citizen applied to the BND, the German Secret Service, and was rejected. The press also reported that the ‘Chinese spy’ had been working as an informer for the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Saxony, where he and Krah are from, since at least 2007. The news caused internal problems within the AfD, which then considered expelling Krah, who was viewed with suspicion within the party’s very important Atlanticist wing. The MEP said at the time that Jian G. was an excellent adviser on trade issues with China and that as a German lawmaker in Brussels, he would not be afraid to do everything in his power to defend the commercial interests of German industry (especially the car industry) in the huge Chinese market. Nevertheless, Jian G. was fired.

In May, the exclusion of the AfD from the Europa Viva 2024 event was another symptom of the problems between the French RN and the AfD. The following week, the RN’s campaign management accused Krah (a CDU member from the age of 14 until the 2016 refugee crisis) of ‘crossing red lines’ by publicly stating that ‘not all SS officers were criminals’ during WWII, and announced through its list leader Jordan Bardella that it no longer wanted to be in the same political group as the AfD, and that ‘we will have new allies after the elections’. In reality, the animosity between Le Pen and Krah goes back to the German’s inclusion in his team of Frenchman Guillaume Pradoura, a former RN member who was expelled from Le Pen’s party for ‘anti-Semitism’.

Shortly after Krah’s victory on 9 June, the AfD leadership sacked the list leader without explanation, ostensibly so that the party could remain part of the ID group. But Le Pen has said that even with Krah, the AfD will no longer be part of the group.

Geopolitical interests behind the split on the European far right?

Krah said in an interview that he was ready to defend “what his voters expect” and that he didn’t want to depend on the favour of foreign parties. Similarly, his incompatibility with the French nationalist leader may have a deeper geopolitical context: “I think our foreign policy should be open to both the East and the West. The world is going to be more global in the future. The Global South will become more and more important and Germany has to play a mediating role; with Meloni and Le Pen it doesn’t work,” he said.

At the time of writing, Krah is being questioned, but says he still expects his list to be reinstated in the AfD and proposes the creation of a new political family in the EP. Another far-right group, perhaps more multipolar internationally, but more nationalistic and radically anti-immigration at home. Krah is also a staunch supporter of the free market and rejects the idea of a welfare state. Until recently, he had the support of the AfD’s leader in the Thuringian parliament, Björn Höcke, known as a hardliner, a fierce critic of the US presence and often described by the press as a ‘neo-Nazi and anti-Semite’.

Although isolated and betrayed by his party, Krah represents a line of geopolitical pragmatism that seeks to re-establish Germany as an industrial and commercial power, on a sovereign path and within a multipolar world. It is to him that the AfD owes its new leadership among young voters. In the run-up to the 9 June elections, Krah made extensive use of his Twitter and TikTok accounts and offered to be interviewed on alternative channels, such as Jung und Naiv, which interviewed him for six and a half hours, a format popular among young people, with over a million views on YouTube. So let’s keep an eye on what the AfD has in store for us in the near future. They are now the second-largest party in Germany and the first in the east of the country.


Ricardo Nuno Costa ‒ geopolitical expert, writer, columnist, and editor-in-chief of geopol.pt, especially for «New Eastern Outlook»

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