In Magdeburg, the AfD adopted an election program that will continue to enable cooperation with right-wing populist and national-conservative parties from other European countries in the future. On some issues, however, things could get complicated.

There is, for example, broad agreement on migration policy. A critical point, however, could be the party’s position on the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine or the view held by top AfD politicians that Germany always has to pay too much into the EU pot.

Next year, the citizens of the EU member states will elect a new European Parliament. The strong election results of right-wing parties in national elections in recent years – for example in Finland, Sweden or France – could indicate that the EU Parliament will also move significantly to the right.

Nine AfD MEPs in the EU Parliament

There are currently nine AfD MPs in the EU Parliament. The AfD is a member of the Identity and Democracy parliamentary group – the sixth largest in parliament. The group’s 62 MEPs come from nine different EU countries, most of them sitting for the right-wing Italian Lega (25) and the French right-wing national Rassemblement National (18) in Strasbourg and Brussels.

In addition to the ID parliamentary group, other right-wing parties are organized in the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group with a total of 66 MEPs. Unlike the ID, the EKR provides a vice president in the EU Parliament. It includes, for example, the Polish PiS or the party of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, the Fratelli d’Italia.

The Fidesz of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban had been suspended by the European People’s Party (EPP). After the suspension, Fidesz left the EPP and is no longer a member. Fidesz MEPs are non-attached. Orban is a role model for many AfD politicians. His name was also mentioned in several application speeches in Magdeburg.

“It would be good to expand the cooperation between the forces oriented towards sovereignty and identity and to broaden their organizational base,” says Bundestag member Petr Bystron, who the AfD voted second on their list of candidates for the European elections. The day after the adoption of the election program, he said when asked: “We will, in coordination with our European partners, be open to talks with all parties that share our fundamental convictions.”

Weber under pressure because of proximity to Meloni

Because of his contacts with Meloni, the chairman of the conservative European People’s Party, Manfred Weber, has recently come under pressure. EU Parliament Vice President Katarina Barley criticizes what she sees as a lack of distance between the conservatives in Europe and the right. “In general, it is now often the case that the conservatives’ firewall against the right-wing populists and the fascists no longer exists,” Barley told the “Augsburger Allgemeine”.

Referring to Weber, the SPD politician said: “Especially in Germany we are experiencing a tight legal course in the CDU and CSU.” Weber “deliberately opened the flank to the right and makes no secret of it”. After the 2024 European elections, he wants to work with right-wing populists and those further to the right.

Weber emphasized on Sunday evening in the ZDF “Heute Journal” that his party adheres to firm principles in dealing with other forces. Only those who stand by Ukraine, who want to help shape Europe in a positive way and do not want to abolish it and who defend the rule of law can be a democratic partner of their party. “There is no wobbling in these three principles for us. Anyone who accepts that can be a political partner,” he said. All the others who do not adhere to these principles, such as the AfD, are opponents “and we are fighting them”.

Program more moderate than announced

At its meeting in Magdeburg on Sunday, the AfD decided on its program for the 2024 European elections. In it, the party describes the EU as a failed project and calls for it to be re-established as a “League of European Nations”. Even after the intervention of the party leadership, the program ended up being more moderate than what the elected AfD candidates for the June 9 election had put forward in their speeches. The idea of ​​Germany leaving the European Union does not appear explicitly in it, nor does the party’s pro-Russia stance, which has repeatedly caused loud criticism in the Bundestag.

If AfD and Co. get significantly more votes in the European elections, two areas in particular would be affected: The “European Green Deal”, the EU’s environmental and climate policy, could become much more toothless. Progress on the common asylum policy could also be even more difficult to achieve than it has been up to now.

The Fratelli d’Italia under Meloni clearly distance themselves from Russia, unlike, for example, the French Rassemblement National, which, like the AfD, has hitherto tended to be pro-Kremlin. The positions do not necessarily coincide on financial issues either: while the AfD views any form of financial solidarity with suspicion, Italy, for example, is dependent on billions in payments from the EU reconstruction fund.

New AfD top candidate controversial within the party

The AfD’s new top candidate, Maximilian Krah, is even controversial in the right-wing ID parliamentary group, which suspended him for three months at the beginning of the year. It was about the allegation that Krah should have manipulated the award of a PR contract for the parliamentary group. His membership in the group had already been suspended for several months in 2022. At the time, he was accused of not supporting Marine Le Pen of the Rassemblement National party in the French presidential campaign, but publicly supporting the party of right-wing extremist Éric Zemmour.

Hardly anyone in the right-wing spectrum of the EU Parliament is in favor of abolishing the EU. The far-right Fratteli d’Italia and Matteo Salvini’s right-wing populist Lega party traditionally see themselves as Eurosceptic. Le Pen envisions a “Europe of Nations” in which countries have more sovereignty over Brussels and only take part in joint projects when it suits them.