German far-Right leader stuns party by quitting chancellor race
THE far-Right Alternative for Germany party (AfD) has been thrown into confusion five months ahead of national elections after its leader unexpectedly stepped down as its candidate for chancellor.
Party supporters were coming to terms yesterday with the shock announcement that Frauke Petry would not lead them into September's elections.
The party conference, which was supposed to launch the election campaign in Cologne this weekend, is set to become a crisis meeting as a replacement for Mrs Petry is sought.
It is being held under extraordinary security, with as many as 50,000 protesters expected to demonstrate against the far-Right party.
Aircraft have been banned from flying over the city centre and an extra 4,000 police have been drafted in.
To complicate matters further, Mrs Petry has not resigned as party leader, saying only she will not serve as candidate for chancellor.
Under the German political system, the two roles can be separate, though they rarely are in practice.
It is just the latest development in an AfD power struggle that has seen it plummet in national opinion polls.
Mrs Petry's rivals on the extreme Right of the party have been determined to wrest control from her.
With her shock announcement, Mrs Petry appears to have forestalled them.
Her decision not to run is a risky move. While the AfD has no realistic chance of winning the chancellorship, German party leaders who have not run for the office in the past have rarely remained in charge for long. (© Daily Telegraph, London)