German Far-Right Leader Sees Le Pen Victory in France as a Model

(Bloomberg) -- Alice Weidel, the co-leader of Germany’s right-wing AfD party, said the victory of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in the first round of France’s legislative election is something to emulate.

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“I look at the result in France with admiration and respect,” Weidel told Bloomberg on the sidelines of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) convention in Essen in western Germany on Sunday. “I think it’s wonderful that Marine Le Pen managed to achieve such a great result. And of course it’s also a role model for the AfD.”

Relations between Weidel and Le Pen have been strained since France’s right-wing politician severed ties with the AfD in the run up to the European Parliament election earlier this month. The AfD’s lead candidate Maximilian Krah told an Italian newspaper that not all members of the Nazi SS paramilitary organization were criminals, remarks that led Le Pen to break with the German group.

The comments also resulted in the expulsion of the AfD from the Identity and Democracy alliance, a pan-European group of far-right parties, which left it largely isolated in the EU parliament.

Weidel dismissed the claim that the AfD’s migration policy was too radical even for Europe’s other right-wing groups. “In our party program I cannot see anything that’s wrong,” she said. Le Pen’s National Rally was “in fact much stricter than we are. Le Pen has said that too,” she said.

Weidel doesn’t expect a reconciliation with Le Pen anytime soon. “Of course I hope for a dialog in the medium-to-long term. But I think in the short term we’ll leave it as it is. For now I wish the National Rally luck,” she said.

Le Pen’s National Rally was projected to get between 33% and 34.2% of the vote, according to initial projections from four polling companies on Sunday. The left-wing New Popular Front coalition was set to get between 28.5% and 29.6% and President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance between 21.5% and 22.4%.

At an AfD party convention in Essen over the weekend, Weidel and her ally Tino Chrupalla were re-elected as party leaders, while tens of thousands of protesters gathered outside the venue and some clashed with police. Of the 600 delegates, 80% supported Weidel and 83% backed Chrupalla.

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