Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is reportedly set to elect new leaders, however, hundreds of people rallied on November 30 in protest against AfD in the western German city of Brunswick. According to international media reports, the police authorities fenced off the Volkswagen Halle Sports hosting approximately 550 AfD delegated to keep the leftist demonstrators from reaching the building. The leadership vote by AfD delegates will be deciding the future direction of the anti-migrant, anti-Islam party, which has reportedly upended German politics since entering the national parliament.
The AfD is the biggest opposition party in the Bundestag national parliament. The party co-leader Alexander Gauland in his opening speech said that the goal of the party was to move from the opposition to the government, at least at the regional level. The 78-year-old Gauland is expected to step down from his co-chairman role, while Joerg Meuthen is set to defend his seat against a challenge from party radicals. The AfD also reportedly sits on opposition benches in all Germany's 16 state parliaments including Angela Merkel's centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD).
AfD has also been criticized. Angela Merkel's conservatives reportedly said that they can not work with the party as its anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic rhetoric contributes to an atmosphere of hate that encourages political violence. Gauland has been a unifying figure in the AfD and has further indicated that he might run again for the leadership if he doubts the quality of the candidates. According to an international media outlet, the party has said that it wants to continue with the co-leadership model. A lawmaker from the eastern state of Saxony, Tino Chrupalla is a candidate who is favoured by senior AfD members and is also backed by Bjoern Hoecke, AfD leader in the eastern state of Thuringia. AfD is reportedly the most popular in formerly Communist eastern states, with double the support that it has in the west of the country.