The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) has previously abstained from participating in anti-Islamization rallies organized by the Pegida movement.
As Joerg Meuthen, co-leader of the AfD party, explained in his interview with the Allgemeine Zeitung, the issue of developing closer ties to Pegida was the personality of its founder, Lutz Bachmann.
"We cannot imagine any cooperation that is rooted in the person of Bachmann," he stated, as quoted by the newspaper.
Bachmann's Flight From Germany
In 2016, after almost two years of campaigning against the Islamization of Germany, Bachmann left his position and fled Germany.
Later, he posted a statement on YouTube, revealing the reasons why he left the country: he cited numerous threats that he and his family had faced over the past several months, including attempts by unknown intruders to break into his house in Dresden and an attack on his car.
As he explained, another reason for the move was that his wife was going through deep psychological stress due to his ongoing persecution.
Bachmann reportedly has past convictions for drugs and burglary. However, other events forced him to leave his position: when pictures of him emerged posing with a Hitler moustache and haircut.
New Alternative for AfD
According to Joerg Meuthen, the party is now considering to lift its ban on joining rallies by the Pegida movement, based on the desire to avoid any possibility of the party being alienated from voters at the political center-ground.
"This is about PEGIDA in Dresden…We should lift the ban on cooperation that we have," he stated.
The Pegida movement appeared in October 2014 in Dresden, attracting hundreds and later thousands of supporters during weekly anti-Islamization marches.
Meuthen went on to elaborate that he wanted AfD members to be able to join and speak at Pegida rallies, which was supported by other lawmakers. The party's co-leader, Alexander Gauland, in his interview to the Stern magazine expressed a similar view, saying that a rapprochement is possible after Bachmann's departure.
Currently, Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SPD), which have recently created a coalition, are striving to prevent voters from switching to the AfD, which received almost 13 percent in a September election and entered parliament.
According to the latest INSA poll, this week indicated the first time that the AfD has overtaken the SPD, reaching 16 percent.