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German populist AfD suggests France be excluded from euro

media Bjoern Hoecke (right) of Germany's right-wing populist party, Alternative for Germany (AfD) celebrates the results of regional elections on 13 March, 2016 Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay

Germany's right-wing populist party AfD has suggested that France and southern European countries be excluded from Europe's common currency, in remarks made by the party's top officials to be published in Monday's edition of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Alternative for Germany (AfD) party co-leader Joerg Meuthen was reported on Sunday as saying that Germany would be able to share a common currency with the Netherlands, Austria, Finland or Baltic states because "they have similar cultures of stability like ours. But the French have a different one, not to mention the Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese and Greeks. They don't want austerity at all."

Asked directly if his party wanted France ejected from the eurozone, AfD's deputy leader, Alexander Gauland said: "No one wants to throw France out. But France is certainly a political problem. And for that I have no solution."

Gauland told the daily that it was good in principle for France to share the common currency, "but if it will not or cannot afford that economically, then one must find other structures."

The AfD was formed three years ago as an anti-euro party but is now running mainly on an anti-immigrant platform. The party scored between 12 and 24 per cent in three key state elections in March. It is now represented in half of Germany's 16 state assemblies as well as the European parliament and is hoping to enter the national parliament in elections due late next year.

France, the eurozone's second biggest economy, has been struggling to bring down high unemployment and national debt. Its public debt, which has grown since the 2008 financial crisis and currently stands at around 2.1 trillion euros, is set to go on increasing this year and next. It was on course to reach 96.2 per cent of GDP in 2016.

The jobless rate in France is around 10 per cent and rising, while it is falling in other large European economies.

- with AFP

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