Court halts German far-right figure’s expulsion from party

BERLIN (AP) — A prominent regional leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany on Friday won a court injunction against his expulsion from the party.

The national leadership of Alternative for Germany, or AfD, last month voted to void the membership of Andreas Kalbitz, its chief in the eastern state of Brandenburg, for failing to disclose his ties to extremist groups. Kalbitz vowed to fight the decision, which is hotly disputed inside the party.

The Berlin state court ruled that the cancelation of Kalbitz’s membership was inadmissible, news agency dpa reported. That means Kalbitz can continue to exercise his rights as a party member and a member of its national leadership until an AfD arbitration committee rules on the matter.

The party is under pressure to distance itself from extremists in its midst after coming under growing scrutiny from Germany’s domestic intelligence agency. Earlier this week, intelligence officials in Brandenburg put AfD’s branch there under observation.

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Kalbitz has a long history of involvement in groups that promote a revisionist interpretation of Germany’s war-time history and was photographed in 2007 at an event hosted by the HDJ, a neo-Nazi youth movement that has since been banned.

AfD came third in the country’s 2017 national election but has recently lost ground in opinion polls.

Much of AfD’s branch in Brandenburg is standing behind Kalbitz, one of the leading figures on the party’s right wing. He has remained a member of the party’s caucus in the regional parliament.

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