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In leadership tussle, Euroskeptic AfD calls off party conference

The euroskeptic Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has called off its party conference in Kassel. The event was billed as a potential showdown between rival factions within the party's top ranks.

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) on Tuesday canceled its party conference, previously set for June 13 and 14. AfD-spokesman Christian Lüth said on Monday that there were doubts about possible irregularities regarding the election of party delegates in four of Germany's states.

The AfD said it was looking into a possible replacement party conference during the last weekend in June. In this case, its said that all party members might be invited, not just its delegates.

The party was founded in 2013 as an anti-EU force on Germany's political landscape, formed as Greece and other countries' finances were in sharp focus. The party just missed the "5-percent hurdle" parties must clear for guaranteed representation in Germany's national parliament, but has since won places in five regional parliaments and at the European Parliament.

The party has become deeply divided between opposing wings: the free-market liberals united in their opposition to Brussels' economic policies; and the national conservatives trying to move voters on issues like immigration, cross-border crime and national identity. This year's conference was expected to culminate in a clash for leadership of the party.

'Irreconcilable' attitudes

Bernd Lucke, a professor of economics from Hamburg who co-founded the party, is the leading figure of the liberal wing, while the best known leader of the national conservative wing is the head of the party in the eastern state of Saxony, Frauke Petry .

In May, Lucke

founded the Wake-up Call 2015

(Weckruf 2015) movement with others from the liberal wing, saying its aim was to isolate the right-wing populist forces within the AfD.

Lucke said in May that the party was suffering badly as a result of the "anti-capitalist, German nationalist, anti-Islamic and anti-immigration forces" in its ranks. He expressed his doubts regarding appeals for unity between the two flanks: "The fundamental attitudes of these two groups are irreconcilable." Lukce's liberal wing accuses the nationalists to turn the AfD into a pure protest party bent on provocation.

das/msh (dpa, AFP)

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