Over 20,000 people protested against the racist Alternative for Germany (AfD) conference in Cologne last Saturday.
Christine Buchholz, an MP for left party Die Linke, told Socialist Worker, “The protests were supported by trade unions, religious communities, different political parties, radical activists and even carnival associations.”
“Taxi drivers refused to drive AfD-representatives—there was a huge amount of public sympathy.”
Police arrested some protesters as they attempted to prevent delegates from entering the conference centre.
The AfD surged in regional elections last March and September, even beating chancellor Angela Merkel’s Tory CDU party into second place in one state. It fed off the mainstream parties’ racism, a stagnating economy, and posing as being “anti-establishment”.
But now it’s beginning to face difficulties through opposition and infighting.
The AfD unites a range of populist racists, includes some Nazis, around a programme that targets migrants and Muslims.
These contradictions between its racist and openly Nazi sections are now coming to the surface. As Christine Buchholz said, “From the beginning there were different sections in the AfD.
“Now their contradictions are starting to break them up”.
The AfD co-leader Frauke Petry announced last week that she would not be seeking to lead the party again. “The crisis of AfD goes on,” said Christine. “Frauke Petry failed to even carry a motion.”
Petry’s motion called for the AfD to reject “racist, antisemitic ... and nationalist ideologies” to become more mainstream.
Delegates didn’t even vote for it to be discussed.
While the party have seen a dip in the polls since last year, their racist agenda is still a threat.
They are still represented in 11 of the 16 state parliaments in Germany.
But this protest gave a taste of how to fight back against them.
Christine said, “The anti-racist movement ‘Aufstehen gegen Rassismus’ (Stand up against racism) helped build the protest and was very visible.”
“This is the first time the racists are really being pushed back.”
“Today we demonstrated in Cologne that a broad protest and resistance is key for fighting back against the AfD.”