German far-right boots regional leader over extremist ties

The far-right Alternative for Germany party has expelled one of its regional leaders for failing to disclose his ties to extremist groups.

Senior party officials voted Friday to void the membership of Andreas Kalbitz, its chief in the eastern state of Brandenburg.

The party is under pressure to distance itself from extremists in its midst, after coming under growing scrutiny from Germany's domestic intelligence agency.

Last month the party ditched its chief spokesman after he allegedly declared himself to be a “fascist.”

Kalbitz, 47, has a long history of involvement in groups that promote a revisionist interpretation of Germany's war-time history and was photographed in 2007 at an event hosted by the HDJ, a neo-Nazi youth movement that’s since been banned.

He and Bjoern Hoecke, Alternative for Germany’s leader in Thuringia state, are considered influential figures on the party’s right wing.

Kalbitz, who was also the party’s caucus leader in the Brandenburg state assembly, told German news agency dpa that he plans to take legal action against the decision to expel him.

Alternative for Germany came third in the country's 2017 national election but has recently lost ground in opinion polls.