Germany’s unruly anti-immigration AfD to pick election team

Co-leader Frauke Petry, right, talks to board member Alexander Gauland at the party convention of Germany's nationalist party AfD (Alternative for Germany) in Cologne, Germany, on Saturday. (AP)
Updated 23 April 2017
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Germany’s unruly anti-immigration AfD to pick election team

COLOGNE, GERMANY: Germany’s anti-immigration AfD will wrap up a fractious party congress Sunday by choosing the team to lead it into a September general election, after it dramatically sidelined its most prominent personality.
The Alternative for Germany’s telegenic co-leader Frauke Petry had already announced last week she would not join the campaign squad, after weeks of bitter infighting between populists and more radical, hard-right forces.
Petry, a 41-year-old former chemist pregnant with her fifth child, was handed a further setback Saturday at the gathering in the western city of Cologne, which drew tens of thousands of protesters.
The around 600 delegates rejected her call to adopt a more moderate-sounding “Realpolitik” program intended to shut down the party’s more extremist voices, including those who have attacked Germany’s Holocaust remembrance culture.
Top-selling daily Bild called delegates’ decision to not even debate her motion a “crushing blow” for Petry, who expressed bitterness on the sidelines of the meeting.
“I will step aside during the campaign, as that’s what the party congress apparently wants,” Petry said, while pledging to remain party co-chairwoman “for now.”
“As long as the party is not willing to say in what direction it wants to go, a team will have to lead the campaign that can deal with this indecision better than I can.”
The AfD has seen its support plummet as the refugee influx to Germany has slowed in recent months after Chancellor Angela Merkel let in more than one million asylum seekers since 2015.


The party, now represented in 11 of Germany’s 16 states, aims to sign off on a program that will pave the way for it to enter the national parliament for the first time in its four-year history.
It includes calls to stop family unification of refugees already in Germany, strip immigrants convicted of “significant crimes” of their German passports, and declare Islam incompatible with German culture.
But commentators said the power struggle further undermined its bid to surf the momentum of France’s far-right frontrunner Marine Le Pen, Donald Trump in the United States and the Brexit movement in Britain to electoral success in the September 24 vote.
Spiegel Online journalist Severin Weiland said Saturday it was now even “doubtful” whether the AfD would clear the five-percent hurdle to representation in the national parliament.
“Frauke Petry was the public face of this party,” he said.
Petry’s chief rival, 76-year-old Alexander Gauland, a hard-line defector from Merkel’s CDU, had urged delegates to defeat her Realpolitik motion, calling it “divisive.”
But even Gauland, who was widely mentioned as a candidate to join the AfD campaign team, expressed regret that Petry, who is very popular with the party’s base, will not be front-and-center on the campaign trail.
Another likely member of the election team is 38-year-old economist and former investment banker Alice Weidel who has railed against “an army of millions of uneducated migrants from the Middle East and Africa who expect a free ride” in Germany.
The daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung said that the dispute was less about the political goals of the party, the most successful right-wing populist outfit in Germany’s post-war history, than personal ambition.
“The AfD is heading for a showdown that could end up breaking it apart,” it said.


Two thirds of African cities face ‘extreme climate risk’

Updated 2 min 37 sec ago
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Two thirds of African cities face ‘extreme climate risk’

  • The data also showed that some of the most populous cities on Earth — including Delhi, Mumbai, Mexico City and Karachi — were all at “high-risk” of damage to their economies and populations
PARIS: Rapid population growth and poor infrastructure have put two out of three cities in Africa at “extreme risk” of the threats posed by climate change, according to a new analysis released Wednesday.
With UN figures showing 86 of the world’s 100 fastest-growing cities are in Africa, experts warned nearly half of the continent’s GDP was exposed to the perils posed by our warming planet.
The findings were laid out in the 2018 Climate Vulnerability Index which calculates an overall risk figure from more than 50 separate data sources, including state-of-the-art climate models, socio-economic factors and demographic trends.
It found Bangui in the Central African Republic, Liberia’s capital Monrovia and the Congolese city of Mbuji-Mayi to be the three most at-risk cities.
Eight African cities featured in the index’s top 10.
“It’s really assessing the ability to withstand climate-related shocks and this is what makes African economies stand out as at risk compared to the rest of the world,” said Niall Smith, an environment analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, which compiled the index.
The British-based risk consultancy also singled out DR Congo’s capital Kinshasa as being of particular concern for investors.
Currently home to 13.2 million people, the city regularly experiences weather events such as cyclones and flooding, which will cause greater disruption as the population swells to 26.7 million by 2035.
“Urban population growth at this projected rate will, without doubt, intensify the city’s alarming risk profile,” they said.
“Africa’s megacities already face issues like lack of clean water, sanitation and shelter.”
The study found that as much as 47 percent of Africa’s GDP — an amount totalling close to $1.4 trillion (1.24 tn euros) — to be at “extreme risk” from climate change by 2023, significantly higher as a percentage than any other continent.
“By no means are we saying don’t invest in these locations,” Richard Hewston, principal climate change and environmental analyst at Verisk told AFP.
“But climate risk should be one of the elements you consider. There’s a huge opportunity for investors and we would say that you need to go in with your eyes open by doing due diligence beforehand.”

The data also showed that some of the most populous cities on Earth — including Delhi, Mumbai, Mexico City and Karachi — were all at “high-risk” of damage to their economies and populations due to climate change.
Scientists in May released the findings of a study suggesting that prompt global action to tackle climate change could save the world economy $20 tn by the end of the century.
But in many nations domestic political concerns still trump climate action.
Hewston gave New York as an example of a city with the technical know-how and political will to invest in climate defenses after it was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
“But if you’re looking for other cities, say in Africa, or Dhaka or Mumbai, they also have competing aspects they look to fund so things like climate resilience don’t always top the list,” he said.
Verisk found that British cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast were the three cities best prepared to manage the impact of climate change.