Backlash over a controversial speech about the Holocaust has become very expensive for Germany’s far right, anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany (AfD). According to a report by German magazine Der Spiegel, AfD state leader Björn Höcke’s comments have cost the backing of several large donors.
On January 14, Mr. Höcke told a crowd at an AfD youth gathering that Germany needed to end its “culture of remembering Nazi crimes,” and called Berlin’s Holocaust memorial a “monument of shame.”
“Altogether, this event cost us well over €100,000,” Uwe Wurlitzer, the AfD’s general secretary for Saxony state, told regional newspaper Lausitzer Rundschau.
AfD Saxony treasurer Carsten Hütter confirmed to news agency DPA the sum was “absolutely realistic.” Companies which once supported the populist party have reconsidered, amid heated debate over Mr. Höcke’s future in the party and internal power struggles.
Leadership has been faced with no other choice but to rework the election campaign budget. A recent poll showed the AfD at just 8 percent, a seven-month low, ahead of voting in September. However it is still on par with other opposition parties, such as the Left party polling at 8 percent and the Greens with 7 percent, while Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives lead with 34 percent.
Party leader Frauke Petry also raised eyebrows earlier this week after a meeting in Moscow with top Russian officials.