The leader of the far-Right Alternative for Germany party (AfD) has quit his own party because it has become too extreme.
Jörg Meuthen announced he was resigning as AfD leader and leaving the party altogether.
The 60-year-old said he was stepping down because he had lost an internal power struggle for the control of the party with the far-Right.
“The heart of the party today beats very far to the right and it actually beats constantly,” he told German television. “I clearly see totalitarian overtones.”
Mr Meuthen’s decision follows two years of turmoil within the party as he tried to take on hardliners.
He was one of two joint leaders and his resignation leaves Tino Chrupalla in sole control.
Mr Meuthen joined the AfD in 2013 when it was a Eurosceptic party focused on taking Germany out of the single currency.
He became joint leader in 2015 and presided over the party’s lurch to the far-Right: under his leadership the AfD campaigned on an openly anti-Muslim and anti-migrant platform.
But in recent years, the move to the far-Right appeared to become too much for Mr Meuthen.
He fought an internal war against “the Wing”, a hardline grouping within the party that was officially disbanded after being put under surveillance by German intelligence as a potential threat.
In 2020, Mr Meuthen succeeded in forcing Andreas Kalbitz, one of the Wing leaders, out of the party.
But he was unable to prevail against Björn Höcke, the Wing’s figurehead and the AfD’s most extreme figure, who has been compared to Hitler by German television.
Mr Meuthen’s power within the party was weakened by the fact he chose to remain an MEP rather than standing for the German parliament.
He survived so long as leader in part because he enjoyed good personal relations with Alexander Gauland, the AfD patriarch, despite their political differences.
But Mr Gauland, who once described the Nazi era as a “speck of birds*** in a thousand years of glorious German history”, also extended his protection to Mr Höcke.
The AfD suffered significant losses in last year’s election, falling back to fifth place and losing its status as the largest opposition party.
With Mr Meuthen gone, the way is clear for the hardliners to forge the party in their own far-Right image.