AfD Top Candidate Kept Out of Public View Amid Espionage Scandal

Allegations of Chinese spying rock the far-right AfD party in Germany, as their lead EU election candidate Maximilian Krah faces scrutiny over his adviser's alleged espionage activities, casting doubt on the party's future.

Wojciech Zylm
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AfD Top Candidate Kept Out of Public View Amid Espionage Scandal

AfD Top Candidate Kept Out of Public View Amid Espionage Scandal

Maximilian Krah, the lead candidate for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in the upcoming European Parliament elections, will remain the party's top choice despite allegations that his adviser, Jian Guo, was spying for the Chinese government. Krah acknowledged that the espionage allegations would "terribly overshadow" the election campaign, but said he would step back from the campaign launch.

The AfD party bosses, Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupulla, said Krah would remain their lead candidate, but his profile would be kept low at upcoming party rallies, and campaign posters bearing his face would be withheld. The Guo affair is the latest in a string of headline news focused on the AfD, amid growing speculation and debate over its suspected foreign influences.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz condemned the alleged spying, calling it "very worrying." Green party EU lawmaker Reinhard Bütikofer accused Krah of being "China's loudest vassal" in the European Parliament, and suggested Krah may have had knowledge of his aide's activities. The AfD has been critical of NATO and the EU, and has supported policies aligned with Russia and China.

The allegations against Krah come on top of other recent scandals involving the AfD, including links to Russia and the use of a banned Nazi slogan by one of the party's controversial politicians. The scandals have led to a decline in support for the AfD, with the party now polling at around 16% nationally, down from around 22% late last year. Experts say the scandals could have a profound effect on the AfD's chances in this year's elections, with the party's "great era" of success coming to an end.

Why this matters: The espionage scandal surrounding the AfD's top candidate raises serious concerns about foreign influence in German politics, particularly from China and Russia. It also highlights the challenges faced by far-right parties across Europe as they confront controversies and declining support.

Krah said he will dismiss Guo and work to "reconstruct everything" the assistant worked on, acknowledging that the election campaign has been "terribly overshadowed" by the matter. However, he stated that he remains the AfD's top candidate and will focus the campaign on European issues. The AfD's parliamentary group chief has dismissed the China spying claims as politically motivated, while the party's co-leader has said they will wait to see how the case develops before commenting further.

Key Takeaways

  • Maximilian Krah, AfD's lead EU election candidate, to remain despite adviser's alleged spying for China.
  • AfD to keep Krah's profile low, withhold campaign posters amid growing scrutiny over foreign influences.
  • German Chancellor Scholz condemns alleged spying, Green lawmaker calls Krah "China's loudest vassal".
  • AfD faces declining support amid scandals involving Russia, Nazi slogans, and now China spying.
  • Espionage scandal raises concerns about foreign influence in German politics, challenges facing far-right parties.