Protesters and police clash as Germany’s

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Christian Mang/Reuters

Protestors attend a demonstration against Germany’s AfD party in Essen on Saturday.


Protesters have clashed with police as a conference of Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party began in the western city of Essen on Saturday.

AfD delegates gathered for the two-day meeting after emerging as a big winner from recent European elections. Police – already stretched by the Euro 2024 tournament – have prepared for a weekend of unrest, with mass counter-demonstrations expected from left-wing groups.

Speaking as the event got underway, AfD party co-chair Tino Chrupalla told attendees that AfD membership had grown by 60% since January 2023, Reuters reported.

“Despite all the harassment you have to endure as a member of the AfD, this is an absolutely sensational figure,” Chrupalla told the conference.

Video footage shared on social media show protesters attempting to break onto the entrance of a motorway, before being stopped by police officers wielding batons and spraying pepper spray.

“A large group of people tried to overcome a barrier. Police officers prevented this by using pepper spray and batons,” Essen police wrote in a post on X.

Christian Mang/Reuters

Police scuffle with protesters who block access near the venue where AfD delegates are holding a conference.

A video posted Saturday morning by Widersetzen, the group organizing the protests, showed dozens of people gathered, clapping and chanting. According to the organization, around 7,000 Widersetzen protesters were on the streets of Essen on Saturday morning, with more expected in the afternoon.

On the action page of Widersetzen’s website, the group has called for “colorful” civil disobedience during the AfD congress, without resorting to violence or escalation. It states that protesters must disrupt the AfD’s activities to “prevent the spread of fascism.”

According to German media reports, police are expecting up to 100,000 protesters to turn out on Saturday, including around 1,000 left-wing extremists who are prone to violence.

German newspaper Bild reported several arrests on Saturday. According to the publication, one AfD politician had to be freed from a bakery by police officers after the shop was surrounded by an aggressive mob of demonstrators. The politician was then escorted to the conference hall under police protection.

Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images

AfD co-leader Chrupalla receives congratulations from delegates.

The AfD’s party conference comes after winning its best EU election result in its history earlier this month, securing the second-highest share of votes in Germany behind only the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Its recent voting success comes despite the party being embroiled in a series of scandals. In May, prominent AfD politician Maximilian Krah drew condemnation after suggesting not all members of the Nazi SS were criminals.

His comments prompted a far-right coalition of parties in the European Parliament to expel the AfD. Krah also caused friction within his party, with the AfD saying his statements had caused “massive damage” to their election campaign.

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