The second day of the far-right, Alternative for Germany (AfD) party congress saw 600 delegates from all over Germany gather in Magdeburg on Saturday. Attendees elected incumbent EU Parliament member, Maximilian Krah, to lead the Party's 2024 European Union election campaign.
On Friday, a leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD, urged members of the country's main opposition conservative bloc to break down a “firewall” meant to isolate his party, which is at record levels in polls.
He added the party was ready for more as he opened a closely-watched congress aimed at capitalising on a recent surge in popularity.
Around 600 members of the 10-year-old AfD party, gathered in the eastern city of Magdeburg, located in the former communist east where the party has strong support, while anti-extremist groups staged demonstrations.
The convention is set to last over the next two weekends, during which the party members plan to choose candidates and set their policy platform for next June's European Parliament election.
A surge in popularity for AfD Party
Created as an anti-euro outfit, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) morphed into an anti-Islam, anti-immigration party and capitalised on the refugee influx under then-chancellor Angela Merkel.
Buoyed by discontent with the policies of the ruling coalition, led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz's Social Democrats, as well as a weakening economy, the AfD has seen a jump in its poll ratings.
It already has 78 MPs in parliament, out of 736, making it the second-biggest group in the Bundestag.
But their growth in popularity has unsettled the political establishment as well as large sections of the public, and dozens of demonstrators protested outside the conference centre in Magdeburg.
On Saturday, the convention attendees elected Maximilian Krah, the party's incumbent MEP, to lead the AfD's 2024 EU Parliamentary election campaign.
Krah won the vote with 65.7% of the ballots in his favour.
The members also nominated Petr Bystron, a Bavarian Bundestag lawmaker, as second place on the party's EU Parliament candidate list.
The talks on EU candidates come one day after the party announced it would strengthen its ties with other European far-right parties.
On Friday, delegates voted in favour of joining the far-right Identity and Democracy (or ID) group in the European Parliament, which already includes France's National Rally - led by Marine Le Pen and Italy's Lega.
Recent polls put support for AfD at 19-22%, behind only the main conservative opposition bloc. The AfD currently has nine parliamentarians in the European Parliament but now expects to have as many as 20 amid surging popularity ratings in recent opinion polls.
Success in East-Germany
The AfD has been particularly successful in East Germany, where many feel they lost out after national reunification in 1990.
In recent weeks, the AfD succeeded in getting its first full-time mayor elected, as well as its first district administrator in areas that were once part of the communist German Democratic Republic.
And it is in the east, where the AfD is already garnering about 30 per cent support in opinion polls, that the party is hoping for fresh victories next year.