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Germany

AfD co-head Meuthen won't run in Bundestag election

Despite steady growth, AfD co-leader Jörg Meuthen said he would not run in the 2017 general elections. His decision paves the way for chairwoman Frauke Petry to enter the Bundestag.

The head of the "Alternative for Germany" Party (AfD) Jörg Meuthen announced today that he would not run for public office in the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, in 2017.

"I won't disappoint those who've laid their trust in me by running for the Bundestag," he said, adding that he would remain party leader in Baden-Württemberg and co-head of the party.

Meuthen also said that family reasons played a role in his decision, stressing that he would not rule out a future candidacy for the Bundestag in the 2021 general elections. Meuthen is currently the co-head of the party along with Frauke Petry, and is also AfD party leader in the regional parliament of the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg .

Path cleared for Frauke Petry

Meuthen's decision paves the way for co-chair Frauke Petry to enter the Bundestag next year, with the AfD reaching more than 10 percent in opinion polls for several months running. Political parties in Germany need to overcome a five percent threshold to enter the Bundestag - or have candidates be elected by direct mandate.

Deutschland AfD Bundesparteitag in Stuttgart Frauke Petry (Reuters/W. Rattay)

Meuthen's decision makes Frauke Petry entering not only possible but also highly probable, though terms and conditions are still to be decided

It remains unclear, however, what kind of approach the AfD will take in the 2017 general election, as it can choose to nominate Petry as its top candidate or come up with a duo like other minor parties in Germany have done in recent years, such as the Green Party and the Linke party.

Some fear that nominating Petry as the sole leading candidate would consolidate too much power in one person. The party's strategy for the 2017 general elections will only be discussed during its party conference in April. Other names in the running to join Petry are Alice Weidel, a member of the party's federal committee, and Alexander Gauland, co-founder and federal spokesman of the AfD.

Jörg Meuthen meanwhile also revealed that if the party decides to put only one candidate forward in April "it will likely be Frauke Petry."

ss/kl (Reuters, dpa)

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