Lected new leader of the Alternative for Deutschland
Essen - AFP
Germany's anti-euro party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), elected a new leader from the group's right wing Saturday to replace founder and frontman, Bernd Lucke, after a months-long power struggle.
Frauke Petry, who heads a national conservative faction within the fledgling AfD, won a clear majority at a two-day party congress in the western city of Essen, which gathered about 3,500 members.
Some 60 percent of delegates backed Petry, whose faction has been battling Lucke, the AfD's economic neo-liberal leader for months, and criticises him for focusing too much on European policy.
"We must end the confrontations," Petry told the congress, winning a standing ovation from many delegates after her victory.
"It's not a victory of conservatives over liberals. It's only together that we are strong and it's together that we can change politics," she added.
Petry, 40, who has supported talks with the anti-Islam, anti-immigration PEGIDA movement, said she wanted to address all issues "without taboos" that are of concern to citizens, including immigration.
She drew particular applause with remarks about "massive integration problems linked to the fact that a religion like Islam conveys a vision of the state that is totally foreign to that which we know in Europe".
After it was founded in early 2013, the AfD's main battle cry was for an orderly dissolution of the euro and a return to the deutschmark after the financial turbulence that nearly brought the eurozone to its knees.
It came close to entering the German parliament in 2013.
Last year it won seats in the European Parliament, followed by representation in five German state assemblies, after it sought to widen its appeal by incorporating populist positions on law and order, immigration and traditional social values.
Lucke, 52, on leaving the podium, said he was "obviously disappointed but also relieved" to be free of the weight of the party leadership.