In 2015, Jörg Meuthen became joint leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) with Frauke Petry and remains as joint leader now with Tino Chrupulla. In the early days of the AfD, Meuthen presented as a moderate; by 2019, however, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution was concerned about his’ aggressive xenophobic rhetoric.’
Despite his prominent roles, Meuthen is less well known that either Alexander Gauland or Alice Weidl, and keeps his private life well hidden.
Meuthen has been an MEP since the end of 2017, when party colleague Beatrix von Storch’s seat became available after she entered the Bundestag. He is deputy chair of the eurosceptic grouping, the EFDD (Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy) in the European Parliament and was lead candidate in the AfD’s 2019 Euopean election campaign.
Meuthen, a Roman Catholic who has been married three times, was born in 1961. He comes from Essen in the Rhineland and studied economics at university. He became a Professor of Economics at a Further Education Institute in 1997. He joined the AfD in 2013 and in 2015 he was elected to the state parliament Baden-Württemberg. He became leader of the party in Baden-Württemberg in 2016, a position he gave up when he took over the European Parliamentary seat. He unsuccessfully tried to become an MEP in the 2014 European elections.
At first, Meuthen was regarded as a moderate. At a party conference in 2017, Meuthen said “We are a party of freedom, of justice and of direct democracy.“ He rejected President Trump’s protectionism, and was seen as a ‘small c’ conservative. Die Zeit commented, “The friendly business liberal, that’s his role. He’s played it since 2015.” However as the Zeit goes on to note, Meuthen sided with his extremist colleague Björn Höcke about Höcke’s controversial remarks about the Berlin Holocaust memorial; in January 2017 Höcke called it a ‘monument of shame’ and called for a ‘180 degree reversal’ in the politics of remembrance. Along with Gauland and two others, Meuthen saved Höcke from expulsion, thus siding with the right of the party.
In January 2019, a report from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution about the AfD, which did not find the party as a whole to be anti-constitutional, held Meuthen and Gauland responsible for the actions of the right-wing party platform “Flügel” (which is dominated by Thuringian state leader Björn Höcke). The report noted that in their speeches at the “Flügel” annual meeting at the Kyffhususer monument in Thuringia, Meuthen used “aggressive xenophobic rhetoric” and Gauland, “nationalistic images of society.”
Like Alice Weidel and Alexander Gauland, Meuthen has been embroiled in a financial scandal. 90,000 worth of advertising in his 2016 state election campaign in Baden-Württemberg was financed by a Swiss advertising agency Goal (the same agency also financed another AfD leader, Guido Reil) The party was fined €402,900, around three times the amount of the illegal donations.