BERLIN (Reuters) - Bernd Lucke, the founder of the eurosceptic Alternative for Germany (AfD) party who was ousted in a recent leadership vote, set up a new party on Sunday.
The “Alliance for Progress and Renewal” (ALFA), like the AfD, opposes the German government’s agreement to financial rescues for Greece and other euro zone countries, Bernd Koelmel, the new party’s deputy chairman, told Reuters.
It also wants to do more to integrate immigrants into society and boost citizens’ rights.
Lucke, a 52-year-old economics professor, set up the party with around 70 others and was elected chairman on Sunday, Koelmel said.
On his Twitter account, Lucke said more than 5,000 people had already registered their interest on websites related to the party.
Regional elections next year in the states of Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate will provide the first real test of the new party’s popularity.
Lucke left the AfD this month after losing out to Frauke Petry in a leadership vote. Lucke complained that xenophobia was on the rise in the party, which he had founded in 2013 to oppose euro zone bailouts.
He had wanted AfD to focus more on economic issues but with Petry’s growing influence, immigration issues became key topics for the party.
There had been widespread speculation that Lucke would establish a new party after he set up a group within the AfD, called “Weckruf 2015” (Wake up call 2015), aiming to prevent the party from turning into a “radical, sectarian party of angry citizens”.
Reporting by Michelle Martin and Hans-Edzard Busemann; Editing by Susan Fenton