The founder of Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida) in Germany has launched a new political party, the Freiheitlich Direktdemokratische Volkspartei (FDDV), which translates as the Liberal Direct Democratic People’s Party.
Addressing crowds at a weekly meeting of the anti-Islamist Pegida movement in Dresden Lutz Bachmann announced that the articles of incorporation formalising the party had been signed on the 13th July.
The move had been anticipated for over a year following comments by Mr. Bachmann that he intended to create a “Parliamentary arm” to the grassroots movement. Local paper Süddeutch Zeitung has reported that the party is being created in response to a possible impending ban on the movement.
But in making his announcement Mr. Bachmann has made it clear that he does not intend to challenge the centre right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party which is committed to curbing migration in Germany.
“We will support the AfD in the next elections and we will have direct candidates in only a few constituencies,” Mr. Bachmann said.
The party will be linked to local AfD associations across much of Germany, excepting that of Saxony which is headed by AfD’s leader Frauke Petry. “Other regional associations have understood that it can only work if we are together,” Mr. Bachmann said.
Mr. Bachmann himself will not take any role in the leadership of the new party, preferring to remain on the front line organising the Pegida marches.
From a small group of concerned citizens holding weekly silent marches through Dresden, the Pegida movement rapidly grew, boasting some 40,000 supporters at its first anniversary meeting in October last year.
In June last year, it took part in its first electoral contest, performing better than expected by taking 9.6 per cent of the vote in the ballot to elect the new Mayor of Dresden, which was enough to secure fourth place.
But its meteoric success, which has caused the Merkel government huge embarrassment, has brought with it a backlash from the establishment who accuse the group of racism. In October Mr. Bachmann was charged by the state of Saxony with hate speech over posts he made on Facebook in 2014.