Alternative for Germany in Bremen: a house divided against itself

The German city state of Bremen is going to the polls in May, but it is not clear whether Alternative for Germany (AfD) will not be on the ballot. Its parliamentary party collapsed more than three years ago, shortly after the last election. Two years ago, the state chapter’s leader, Peter Beck, resigned. Since then, the party has not been able to fill the position.

Right now, there are two competing executive committees, which have drawn up two separate slates of candidates for the election. If they both submit their respective lists to the returning officer under the AfD label, they will probably both be rejected. This article has all the juicy details.

Update March 17, 2023: The AfD has submitted two lists in Bremen itself, and both were rejected. The party can appeal against this decision. More excitement to follow. They submitted a single list for the exclave of Bremerhaven (don’t ask), which has been accepted.

Update March 23, 2023: A final decision has been made: the AfD will not be on the ballot.

bremen town musicians, monument, fairy tale
Photo by Buecherwurm_65 on Pixabay

The situation is ridiculous, but not totally unusual. The national leadership had to step in and appoint a temporary executive both in Lower Saxony (in 2017?) and in Saarland (in 2020 and again in 2022, I think). Even legal worries about the candidate selection process are not unheard of (Saxony springs to mind), but so far, the AfD’s lists were never completely rejected.

Moreover, the national leadership could still intervene and bring in an acting executive that could then draw up a third list, which would arguably be the only official one. They would have to submit this list by March 6, which is doable if they act fast.

And voters might still go along with this: even after all the shenanigans, the AfD in Lower Saxony managed to double their result in 2022. Stay tuned, as they say.

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