"corrupt networks": Deputy Cotar leaves the AfD

“Corrupt networks”, “pandering to inhuman regimes” like the one in Russia: Joana Cotar, a member of the Bundestag in Giessen, resigns from the AfD with a violent reckoning.

Wolfgang Turk

For party colleagues and political observers, the step on Monday morning did not come as a surprise: Joana Cotar, member of the Bundestag from Langgöns (Gießen), was in a clinch with the AfD for a long time. And she had recently deleted the reference to her affiliation from her Twitter profile.

Now the co-founder and former AfD co-chairman announced: “After ten years, I’m saying goodbye to the #AfD.” However, the violence with which she did this was possibly stronger than the party leadership had hoped. In a opinion the 49-year-old settles accounts under the title “Always for freedom”.

The politician, who belongs to the more moderate part of the AfD, was once co-chairman of the state, was now a member of the federal executive board and lost in the fight for the top candidate in the federal election in 2021.

Complaint about “permanent bullying”

She accuses the party of having abandoned the former course of “realpolitik freed from ideological influences for the good of Germany”. In dealings within the AfD, red lines have been crossed several times. Instead of content, the main focus there is on income from mandates and offices. According to the member of the Bundestag, “permanent bullying is the order of the day” in the internal party dispute.

Cotar writes verbatim: “Decency no longer plays a role in the corrupt networks within the party.” According to Cotar, opportunists who change their beliefs for mandates are a much bigger problem for the party than right-wing extremist members. This “far right” has always been a minority.

The party has been classified by the Federal and State Office for the Protection of the Constitution as a suspected right-wing extremist. She is currently defending herself in court in Hesse against the announced intelligence service observation. Most recently, the AfD in Hesse achieved the interim success that it may not be observed for the time being.

Too many Putin lobbyists?

“The alternative has become an old party,” states Cotar. There was little left of the goal of standing up for freedom, personal responsibility and a lean state, in contrast to left-wing politics.

In terms of content, Cotar takes offense at the “close proximity of leading AfD officials” to the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin. She criticizes the “afd’s pandering to the dictatorial and inhuman regimes” in China and Iran as well. That was “unworthy of an upright democratic and patriotic party”.

Leading AfD politicians engaged in lobbying instead of standing up for German interests. Unlike party leader Tino Chrupalla, she doesn’t think the rearmament of the Bundeswehr is crazy, but urgently needed.

“Meat pot” accusation also in Hesse

Similar to Cotar with the party as a whole, at the most recent state party conference, the AfD member of parliament Walter Wissenbach settled accounts with his own parliamentary group, in which there had been a fierce internal dispute since entering parliament. He asked the delegates to set up a completely new group on the list for the 2023 Hesse election. Things shouldn’t go on there as before, “just so that a few professional failures can get their meat pots for another five years,” he said.

With a candidacy for the first place on the list against the state chairman Robert Lambrou, Wissenbach was clearly defeated. But he remained in the party and parliamentary group.

She retains her mandate

Cotar wants to keep her seat in the Bundestag and continue as a non-attached member of parliament. Cotar also has a seat in the Giessen district council.

The politician announced that she wanted to do constructive politics in Berlin. She did not say how things would continue in party politics. The suggestion remains that “networking of the conservative/liberal forces in the country” is needed. She’s working on that. Cotar speaks of the necessary cohesion of those who “want to save values ​​and prosperity and have retained decency and common sense”.

A group of conservatives wants to start with a new party called “Bündnis Deutschland”. Last weekend, members gathered in Fulda for the founding, including former members of the CDU and Free Voters. There are also said to be links to more moderate AfD politicians who are dissatisfied with their own party. However, the founders expressly distance themselves from the AfD itself.

power struggle lost

In the ongoing struggle for power and direction within the AfD at federal and state level, the then AfD federal chairman Jörg Meuthen announced his resignation at the beginning of the year. The MEP joined the hitherto largely insignificant conservative Center Party. It also has a state association in Hesse.

Cotar was considered a supporter of Meuthen. In 2021 she wanted to form the top duo of the AfD for the federal elections with Joachim Wundrak. At that time, however, the current federal chairmen, Alice Weidel and Tino Chrupalla, prevailed. At the AfD federal party conference in the summer of this year, Cotar no longer ran for a seat on the federal executive board, which she had previously been a member of since 2020.

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