Leading German nationalist quits party over rightward drift

BERLIN (AP) — A high-ranking member of Alternative for Germany says he is quitting the party because of its drift toward the far right.

Steffen Koeniger, a lawmaker in the eastern state of Brandenburg who was on the party’s national executive, told reporters Thursday that moderates “have finally lost the battle against destructive forces within the party.”

Alternative for Germany came third in last year’s national election after campaigning heavily against immigration. The party was founded in 2013 by conservatives disgruntled by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s course during the eurozone crisis.

The party’s embrace of far-right extremists has prompted several members to leave the party, including its former leader Frauke Petry, who quit the day after the 2017 election.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.