The internally deeply divided AfD is threatened with exclusion from the state elections on May 14 in the city of Bremen. The city’s election management did not allow an AfD list at a meeting on Friday.

The party received two competing nominations from different board members, said Carola Janssen, chairwoman of the Bremen electoral committee. According to the law, a party may submit only one list of candidates. It is not up to the election committee to check which executive committee is legitimate; this dispute must be clarified within the party. In Bremerhaven, on the other hand, the electoral committee there allowed the AfD list to vote.

Who can represent the party?

Both sides in Bremen announced that they would lodge a complaint with the state electoral committee. This is to be discussed next Thursday (March 23). The two camps have been arguing for months about who is allowed to represent the party. One election proposal came from a so-called rump board around the state deputy Sergei Minich. The other proposal came from a so-called emergency board led by parliamentarians Heinrich Löhmann and Frank Magnitz.

The controversy continued at the constituency committee meeting. The election committee should not have accepted the inadmissible proposal from the Minich camp, Löhmann said: “The fault clearly lies with the election committee.” Janssen rejected this. Both lists came from AfD members on behalf of the party. “It remains the case: the AfD party has submitted two proposals.”

For the Minich camp, Bundestag member Fabian Jacobi said that the emergency board’s list of candidates was not admissible due to a formal error in the invitation to the assembly. Then what remains is the proposal of the fuselage board; this must be checked for approval. As a result, the electoral committee rejected both lists unanimously.

The Federal Executive stands behind Minich

The conflict in Bremen also splits the governing bodies of the AfD in the federal government. The federal board has backed Minich, the Bremen state arbitration court and the federal arbitration court support the emergency board.

Carlo Clemens, member of the federal board, called it incomprehensible that the list of the rump board had been rejected. The AfD list approved in Bremerhaven also bears Minich’s signature, so his legitimacy as a board member is not questioned there. The list of candidates for the emergency board, on the other hand, “has nothing to do with our party in terms of formal law,” said Clemens.

In the Bremen parliamentary elections in 2019, the AfD won five seats with 6.1 percent of the vote.

The constituency committees in Bremen and Bremerhaven decided on Friday for all parties which electoral lists will be approved for May 14th. In the smallest federal state, Bremen and Bremerhaven are separate elective areas. A five percent hurdle applies in both; anyone who skips it in one area may send deputies to the state parliament.

That is why, for example, the voter group Bürger in Wut (BiW), which is strong in Bremerhaven, is represented. This time she is aiming for at least one mandate on the Bremen side and could benefit from protest votes if the AfD were excluded.