Alice Weidel reportedly received €130,000 in campaign donations from Switzerland ahead of 2017 elections. The AfD co-leader’s political rivals are now gunning for her resignation
The co-leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party received dubious donations for her campaign in the run up to German general elections in September last year, German media has reported.
Alice Weidel’s district office near Lake Constance received a total of €130,000 ($150,000) in several tranches of mainly 9,000 Swiss franc amounts ($8,900, €7,900) between July and September 2017, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and broadcasters NDR and WDR said, citing bank statements. The donations were made by a Swiss pharmaceutical company.
Weidel, who was the party’s lead candidate in the elections, said that she first learned of the “unsolicited” donations in September last year and decided to return the money after having doubts about its legality.
But the repayment did not take place until April 2018, according to the report, and the amount returned was some €6,000 less than the amount originally received.
Germany allows political parties to receive funds from non-EU countries only if they come from German citizens.
The donation was “unquestionably an illegal party donation because it came from outside the EU,” campaign financing expert Martin Morlok said.
Moreover, according to the German law, a party must immediately inform the Bundestag — the lower house of the German parliament — if it receives more than €50,000 from a single donor. The unidentified donor appears to have transferred the funds in smaller tranches to circumvent this rule.
The Bundestag has not yet responded to the report.
The AfD, which has been repeatedly accused of bending campaign financing rules, faces a hefty financial penalty if the donation is deemed illegal. Anyone who accepts an illegal donation must transfer three times the amount to the Bundestag president, Morlok said.
Calls for resignation
The report sparked strong reactions from Germany’s center-left parties. Green party politician Britta Hasselmann said the donation appeared to be dubious and demanded that all facts be put on the table.
Johannes Kahrs from the Social Democrats (SPD) told German business newspaper Handelsblatt that the Bundestag should closely examine the entire affair.
“If the donation was illegal, Weidel must resign,” he said.
ap/amp (AFP, Reuters, dpa)