World News

Protesters delay opening of German nationalists' convention

Protesters delay opening of German nationalists' convention

Protesters were trying to blockade the far-right Alternative for Germany's first conference since it entered parliament after September's elections.

Protesters stood in freezing weather as they attempted to block the conference from happening while police used water cannons, batons and pepper spray to make way for the 600 AfD delegates.

The number of protesters swelled to about 6,500 later in the day, the German news agency dpa reported.

While the AfD branded itself "more mature, more adult, smarter" and elected officials it saw as "ready to govern" in time for Germany's 2021 federal elections, protesters held signs criticizing the party's nationalist and anti-Muslim policy proposals such as the immediate repatriation of Syrian migrants.

Several officers were injured in scuffles, one on the hand by a flying bottle, and a demonstrator who had chained himself to a barricade suffered a broken leg and was taken to hospital, police said.

Protesters delay opening of German nationalists' convention
Protesters delay opening of German nationalists' convention

Alternative for Germany received nearly 13 percent of the vote in the September 24 federal election, making it the third-strongest party in the Bundestag.

Anti-fascists denounced the AfD, poised to become Germany's main opposition should Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives join forces with Martin Schulz's Social Democrats in a "grand coalition".

Camera IconSlogan on the poster reads "AfD?"

Petry's departure left her rival, Joerg Meuthen, alone as chairman. Meuthen is vying for re-election Saturday at the party's meeting. Founded in 2013 as a vehicle to oppose euro zone bailouts, the AfD was polling at around 3 percent nationally two years ago on the eve of the refugee crisis.

He faces a challenge from the party's Berlin chief and former army colonel Georg Pazderski, while there were also rumours AfD parliamentary group chief Alexander Gauland could mount a leadership challenge. Gauland has suggested he doesn't support Pazderski.

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