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EU chief accuses far-right party of ‘betraying’ Germany



FRANKFURT: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday accused the AfD of “betraying” Germany, as the far-right party battles a string of scandals ahead of European Parliament elections.

The Alternative for Germany was rocked last month when a parliamentary aide of its leading candidate for next month’s EU polls was arrested on suspicion of spying for China.

The candidate, Maximilian Krah, had also previously been caught up in Russian propaganda allegations.

The AfD’s “behaviour is destructively dishonest,” von der Leyen told a congress of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in Berlin.

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The party “is making propaganda for Putin and spying for China ahead of the European elections.

“First the AfD rants about the people and the fatherland, and then the AfD betrays this fatherland to autocrats. They should be ashamed of themselves.”

The party’s programme at the European elections would destroy jobs, she said, criticising them for flirting with the idea of Germany pulling out of the EU.

Von der Leyen, a German former defence minister, is seeking a second term as head of the EU’s executive body at the forthcoming polls.

The AfD is among a crop of far-right parties across Europe expected to make gains at the polls.

The anti-immigration party had enjoyed a surge in the polls last year, leaving it ahead of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats and second only to the main opposition CDU.

But its support has dropped after the recent scandals.

Krah has insisted he will would remain the top candidate for the party for the EU elections despite his aide’s arrest.

Previously, Krah and another AfD candidate for the EU parliament, Petr Bystron, were forced to deny allegations they accepted money to spread pro-Russian positions on a Moscow-financed news website.

As well as the EU polls, the AfD is expected to make gains in three states in the former Communist east of Germany when they hold closely-watched regional elections in September.

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