The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) picked familiar faces for its new set of leaders on Saturday, as the party faces government probes and a string of setbacks in recent state elections.
Tino Chrupalla will return to his role as co-leader, joined by Alice Weidel. There had been speculation that the party might move away from its dual leadership system. But now the duo heads both the party and its legislative group in the Bundestag.
But there were differences. Chrupalla was chosen with support of 53.4% of members present, whereas Weidel got 67.3% However, Chrupalla managed to get a group of supporters chosen for deputy leader positions.
Both share invective against Chrupalla's former co-leader, Jörg Meuthen, who left the party in January, complaining that it was becoming too radicalized. "The era of Meuthen is over as of today," said Chrupalla.
But Meuthen had complained that Chrupalla's approach is alienating voters, and the AfD has seen support drop in recent state elections. Chrupalla has also been criticized for not denouncing Russia firmly enough since its invasion of Ukraine began this year. Chrupalla has pushed back against all of the criticism.
The party is also fighting a recent designation by state security services labelling it as as an extremist group. In past interviews, Chrupalla said he is critical of the current administration, but has no designs to tear down the government.
At the party gathering, he told members that the party was not radical and that its job now was to edge out the centre-right Christian Democrats and the liberal Free Democrats by offering a programme of "freedom and social values."
But opponents said he needs to focus on professionalizing the party.
Weidel jumped to Chrupalla's defence. "Let's knock it off with the endless slams in public," she said. "The AfD is the party of the future" and "a necessary corrective to the encrusted party landscape."
The party gathering in the eastern German town of Riesa is set to continue on Sunday.