Representatives of the right-wing AfD voted overwhelmingly against holding a special party conference to choose a new leader. Whether the decision will unify the party or create further internal rifts, remains unclear.
After almost 11 hours of closed-door deliberations, delegates from the Alternative for Germany party (AfD) decided against holding a fresh leadership vote amidst internal splintering in the right-wing party.
Out of the 50 members attending, 37 voted against holding a special party conference while 11 approved the measure, according to information gathered by the German newspaper "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung."
The emergency AfD meeting in the north German city of Kassel was called in order to find a solution to the leadership dispute between co-heads Frauke Petry and Jörg Meuthen.
According to the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung," party members who are close to Petry called for the special party conference and leadership vote to be added to the AfD meeting agenda. The report stoked rumors that Petry was making a bid for sole party leadership.
Shortly before Sunday's AfD meeting, Petry distanced herself from the alleged scheme in an interview with the German daily newspaper "Bild."
Rival AfD factions
If the special party conference motion had been approved, it would have fueled a leadership showdown shortly before Germany's general election in 2017, which many AfD members hoped to avoid.
Petry heads the opposition AfD in eastern Saxony state's parliament in Dresden, while Meuthen leads another AfD faction in Baden-Württemberg's state parliament.
Meuthen's rival faction formed over a dispute between the two co-heads over a Baden-Württemberg AfD member who was accused of anti-Semitism.
Currently polling around 12 percent nationally, the AfD has won opposition footholds in eight out of Germany's 16 regional parliaments. The right wing party only needs five percent in order to gain seats in Germany's Bundestag.
Although many are dissatisfied with the AfD's right-wing, populist platform, the party has gained increasing support from those dissatisfied with Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee policy.
That growing support has even prompted Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) to adopt a more right-leaning party platform.
rs/jm (AFP, dpa)