AfD member of German parliament leaves the parliamentary group and the party
The next member of the AfD parliamentary group has left the party. Verena Hartmann decided over the weekend and, at first, stated only “personal reasons.” Hartmann had had a history of internal conflicts with other parliamentary members of the party. On Monday, the AfD’s parliamentary group spokesman confirmed Hartmann’s decision.
Last summer Hartmann was one of the signatories to an appeal criticizing the style of the right-wing national “Flügel” within the party and the increase of influence the group had generated. With a view of the “Flügel” founder and Thuringian AfD state chair Björn Höcke, the appeal stated: “The AfD is not and will not be a Björn Höcke party.” Since then, Hartmann had, just as the other moderates, become a persona non grata in her party’s circle.
Moreover, at the beginning of the current legislative period, Hartmann had clashed with the Saxon Member of the Bundestag, Jens Maier. The former judge, who is also connected to the “Flügel,” is said to have threatened Hartmann during a parliamentary group session, allegedly saying: “We are going to destroy you!”
However, Hartmann also reported adverse reactions to her AfD membership, which she was confronted with in her personal life. AfD politicians in Germany are often subject to verbal and sometimes physical abuse. At the time, Hartmann stated: “Discrimination in society must be endured.”
After Lars Herrmann, Hartmann has become the second AfD member to leave the parliamentary group within a few weeks. Herrmann had left the party in December 2019 and had also justified this step with a radicalization of the AfD. “For example, what Mr. Höcke says about himself has no implications nor consequences. He is allowed to say and do whatever he likes in this party,” Herrmann said.
The AfD parliamentary group now has 89 members of the Bundestag – five fewer than after the election in 2017. The former party leader Frauke Petry was the first to leave the group – during the party’s press conference and to the surprise of the other party heads present.
In response to Hartmann’s exit, the chairman of the AfD’s parliamentary group, Alice Weidel, rejected the allegation that the AfD was “being radicalized” in a reaction as “of course complete nonsense.”
Meanwhile, Hartmann stated that her AfD exit would not affect her Bundestag mandate. “I will continue my work and ongoing projects as a non-attached member in the German Bundestag.”
Hartmann is a former police officer. Before moving to politics, she worked in communications, among other things.