Published: 12:13, May 22, 2024
France's far-right RN splits with Germany's AfD in European Parliament
By Reuters
German far-right politician of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) Bjoern Hoecke attends his trial in the state court in Halle, Germany, April 18, 2024. A court is expected to deliver its verdict, May 14, 2024, in the trial of one of the best-known figures in the far-right Alternative for Germany party, who is accused of knowingly using a Nazi slogan in a speech. (PHOTO / AP)

PARIS - France's far-right Rassemblement National, leading the race for EU elections in France, will no longer sit with the Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the European Parliament after the AfD's top candidate said members of the Nazi SS force were "not all criminals".

ALSO READ: German court labels AfD as 'suspected extremist'

The far-right AfD, running second in German opinion polls before June's elections, has come under harsh scrutiny after senior figures attended a meeting where the deportation of immigrants was discussed.

Polls suggest that nationalist and eurosceptic parties will win a record number of votes in June. Voters are expected to punish mainstream parties for failing to shield households from high inflation, curb immigration or deliver adequate housing and healthcare

Last week, a German court ruled that domestic security services could continue to keep the AfD under surveillance as a potentially extremist party.

ALSO READ: German court upholds extremist classification for far-right party

In an interview published last weekend, the AfD's leading election candidate, Maximilian Krah, told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that "SS were not all criminals".

The SS, or "Schutzstaffel", was the main paramilitary force of Adolf Hitler's Nazi party, and among its many roles took a leading part in the Holocaust, the slaughter of 6 million Jews and other groups targeted by the Nazis.

"The AfD has crossed lines that I see as red," Jordan Bardella, head of the Rassemblement National candidate list, said during an election debate on the French television channel LCI.

He added that the RN would build "new alliances" after the election, aiming to be part of the largest possible group in parliament.

READ MORE: Germany's 'Reichsbuerger' coup suspects go on trial

Polls suggest that nationalist and eurosceptic parties will win a record number of votes in June. Voters are expected to punish mainstream parties for failing to shield households from high inflation, curb immigration or deliver adequate housing and healthcare.

The far-right parties in the European parliament are currently split between the European Conservatives and Reformists, whose de facto leader is Italian Prime minister Georgia Meloni, and the Identity and Democracy group, spearheaded by the RN, and including the AfD.