Co-leader leaves far-right Alternative for Germany party

BERLIN (AP) — The far-right Alternative for Germany said Friday that its co-leader Joerg Meuthen, a relative moderate, is leaving the party.

Meuthen, a prominent figure throughout the party’s nine-year history, told public broadcaster ARD he was quitting because Alternative for Germany is becoming too radical.

“Large parts of the party and with it many of its leading representatives have chose an increasingly radical ... course,” Meuthen told ARD. He warned that the party, known by its German acronym AfD, risked being driven into “total isolation and ever further toward the political edge.”

The 60-year-old was considered one of the few relative moderates in a party that has increasingly tilted to the right since it was founded in 2013.

Several senior figures, including two former leaders, have quit the party citing its extremist tendencies, which have drawn scrutiny for Germany’s domestic intelligence agency.

Last month, the German parliament approved a new seating order because one party in the new coalition government didn’t want to sit next to AfD anymore.

The party’s platform initially centered on opposition to bailouts for struggling eurozone members. But it was its vehement opposition to then-Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to allow in large numbers of refugees and other migrants in 2015 that established it as a significant political force.

Meuthen, a university economics professor, plans to remain an independent member of the European Parliament.