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German far-right party presses radical faction to dissolve

BERLIN (AP) — Leaders of the far-right Alternative for Germany party decided Friday to press a radical faction to dissolve itself after the country’s domestic intelligence agency classified it as extremist.

The party leadership called on its faction, known as “The Wing,” to declare at a meeting on Saturday that it will dissolve itself by the end of April, news agency dpa reported.

Last week, the head of the BfV intelligence agency, Thomas Haldenwang, said his office had concluded after more than a year of examination that The Wing meets the definition of a “right-wing extremist movement.”

The move allows authorities to use covert methods to observe The Wing and its estimated 7,000 supporters. They make up about 20% of the party’s overall membership but hold significant sway over its direction, according to former party members including its one-time leader Frauke Petry.

The Wing is led by the party’s regional chiefs in the eastern states of Thuringia and Brandenburg, Bjoern Hoecke and Andreas Kalbitz. The party performed strongly in those two regions in state elections last year.

But some in the party fear that failing to rein in The Wing could endanger the entire party’s future.

Alternative for Germany in 2017 entered Germany’s national parliament, where it is currently the largest of several opposition parties. National polls put its support at between 11% and 14%, around the level it polled in 2017.

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