Article

The AfD and the End of Containment in Germany?

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Abstract

The Alternative for Germany (AfD) made history by winning 12.6 percent of the vote and capturing ninety-four seats in the Bundestag in the federal elections of 2017. This article asks whether the AfD’s rise threatens to undermine the strategy of containment that contributed to the demise of previous incarnations of the radical right. It argues that the current strength of the AfD is a direct result of Angela Merkel’s decisions to rescue the Eurozone and to welcome over one million refugees since the fall of 2015. While the AfD is still likely to suffer a collapse similar to other radical right parties, its consolidation or strengthening would have major consequences for Germany and for Europe.

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... Mapped on the German political system, the established parties failed to provide a policy platform that combined economic and political conservatism, providing room for the rise of a PRRP . Enthusiastically, the AfD occupied the open 'representational gap' in the competitive space (Franzmann, 2014;Art, 2018) that Karl-Rudolf Korte (2008) had identified as a misrepresentation on the conservative end of the cultural dimension long-since. ...
... Immediately, the immigration issue replaced the EU Economic and Financial Crisis as the AfD's (Art, 2018) as well as the entire German political party system's main topic (Korte, 2017). 23 Suddenly owning the party competition's most salient topic, the party radicalized further and applied a xenophobic rhetoric that is until today unmatched in German federal politics. ...
... 23 Suddenly owning the party competition's most salient topic, the party radicalized further and applied a xenophobic rhetoric that is until today unmatched in German federal politics. 24 Meanwhile, the party's electoral performance improved significantly, resulting in a row of spectacular state election results and a 12.6 percent vote share in the federal election 2017 (Art, 2018). As history repeated itself, the leader, this 22 Only three of the founding fathers remained AfD party members until 2021 (Fuchs, 2021). ...
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After only two years as a “single issue Eurosceptic party” (Taggart, 1998, p. 368), the AfD developed into a full-fledged member of the European populist radical right party family. Clearly, the party has radicalized in the cultural dimension, appeals to voters who want to flag out their anti-establishment protest, and the intensified refugee immigration to Germany has additionally catalysed its electoral success. On the contrary and typical for the literature on European populist radical right parties, the role that the economic dimension played in the rise of the party family’s German offshoot remains largely in the dark. This dissertation confirms that as for many European populist radical right parties, also for the AfD, the economic dimension is “secondary” (Mudde, 2007, p. 119). However, the empirical analyses also reveal that the AfD employs its subordinate issue strategically in line with the political opportunity structure and its electorate’s demands. The party’s anti-statist (ordo-)liberal economic positioning matches the preferences of even the deprived layers of its electorate – an exception within the European party family – and constitutes an important pillar for the party’s electoral success. What is more, the AfD successfully plants its seed in economically distressed regions and municipalities that are disappointed by poor public services. The party lights up the narratives of undeserving immigrants, widely shared in the German society and tabloid press. In fact, all over Europe different varieties of welfare chauvinism encroach upon economically left-leaning groups of voters. Due to their opposing economic policy demands, the AfD has not yet found its way into these electoral layers, however, increasing welfare chauvinist policy proposals signal first rapprochements. In the end, the unique German populist radical right’s economic policy outline allows a glimpse on the potential dividing lines within the highly diverse European group of parties. The AfD’s most recent demand for ‘Dexit’, the German exit from the European Union, shows the difficulties to hold together the populist radical right party family: Not only does the AfD oppose the loss of German sovereignty, but its nativist core ideology also bars the party from contributing billions of German tax money to other (mostly Eastern and Southern European) countries. Fierce disputes within the party family over economic policies and the distribution of EU funding are the price for a rigid nativism and the room to manoeuvre European populist radical right parties maintained in their secondary dimension: economics.
... The states' competition emphasized their different reproductive politics. The contrast between democracy in the west and autocracy in the east offered FRG politicians a license to remilitarize, sanctify the male-breadwinner family, protect the brotherhood institutions of unions, corporations, and churches, and defend its own constitutional order by heavy-handed repression of both communist and neofascist movements (Art 2018). Different reproductive politics came from outside the FRG party system in the form of an "Extra-parliamentary Opposition" in the mid-1960s. ...
... In the postwar period, the moral taboo on neofascist parties in Germany had kept their vote share below the five-percent hurdle for entering parliament (Art 2018). In 2013, the AfD slipped past German resistance to reactionary populist discourse, emerging first as a small party with discontented center-right leaders and a strongly Eurosceptic position, similar to UKIP in Britain (Kranert 2019). ...
... By 2015, AfD leaders dropped its early distancing from anti-Islam and anti-immigrant sentiments. Taking advantage of the crowds of protesters stirred up by Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA), a social movement that framed the demographic issue as "resistance to the Islamization of the West," it quickly blossomed into a reactionary, populist, new right party in both eastern and western states (Art 2018). After successes at the state government level, it won 12.6 percent of the vote in the federal parliament in 2018, leading the shrinking SPD to unhappily join the CDU/CSU again to keep the AfD out of government (Arzheimer and Berning 2019). ...
Article
Feminist theory revealed liberal democracy as gendered masculine in a macrointersectional way that privileged racial-ethnic and economic power, enforced heteronormativity, and constructed gender-binary citizenship. Merely reformed to accommodate women, many brotherhood–breadwinner democracies now face deeper challenges. As the second demographic transition undermines the hegemony of binary gender relations, it reorganizes political conflict on an axis of reproductive politics. Germany’s Green and Alternative für Deutschland parties exemplify opposite ends of this axis. The Green clusters of issues reflect intersectional societal ideals that demasculinize democracy, while reactionary populism repoliticizes masculinity to defend the family–state relations of the breadwinner–brotherhood gender system.
... The AfD was founded in 2013 as a reaction to Angela Merkel's decision on the Greek bailout during the Great Recession (Grimm 2015;Art 2018). It started as an 'ordoliberal' (Grimm 2015) and soft-Eurosceptic (Arzheimer 2015) party. ...
... The 'moderate' members around its former leader Bernd Lucke would abandon it and the extremist wing would become stronger. But even before the so-called 'refugee crisis,' the party had started to transform into a PRRP (Art 2018;Arzheimer and Berning 2019). The AfD won 12.6 percent of the vote in the 2017 federal election and became the strongest opposition party. ...
... Whereas some PRRPs are neoliberal, many others promote a 'social-populist' program such as the French National Rally (Betz 2016). The AfD, however, was founded during the Great Recession adopting a clearly free-market stance (Grimm 2015;Art 2018) and still pursues free-market economic policies in its manifestos. That is why I expect the critique of climate policies to be framed in a neoliberal tone against the spectre of 'socialism' and 'planned economy' (H1). ...
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This article conducts a case study of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) to explore the link between ideology and climate change scepticism. Employing qualitative data analysis on a sample of texts from the party’s membership magazine, this article studies the AfD’s climate change communication. My goal is twofold: (1) I explore which frames are used by the most visible sceptic voice in Germany; (2) I investigate how the sceptic frames reflect the AfD’s populist radical right ideology. Overall, my findings reveal that the AfD frequently connects its climate change scepticism to its ideological cores: populism, radical right-wing ideology, and free-market ideology. In line with its populist ideology the AfD frequently uses people-centrism, and the ‘core people’ appear to be at the heart of its framing strategy. Further, climate mitigation policies are often attacked from a free-market point of view, or because they are claimed to harm Germany’s national interest.
... The AfD was founded in 2013 as a reaction to Angela Merkel's decision on the Greek bailout during the Great Recession (Grimm 2015;Art 2018). It started as an 'ordo-liberal' (Grimm 2015) and soft-Eurosceptic (Arzheimer 2015) party. ...
... The topic of immigration became the party's unique selling point. As the 'moderate' members around its former leader Bernd Lucke abandoned it, the party started to transform into a PRRP even before the so-called 'refugee crisis' (Art 2018;Arzheimer and Berning 2019). The AfD won 12.6 per cent of the vote in the 2017 federal election and became the strongest opposition party. ...
Article
This article conducts a case study of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) to explore the link between ideology and climate change scepticism. Employing qualitative data analysis on a sample of texts from the party’s membership magazine, this article studies the AfD’s climate change communications. The goal is twofold: (1) to explore which frames are used by the most visible sceptic voice in Germany; (2) to investigate how sceptic frames reflect the AfD’s populist radical right ideology. Overall, the findings reveal that the AfD frequently connects its climate change scepticism to its host ideologies, especially radical right-wing and free-market ideology. Accordingly, climate change mitigation policies are often attacked because they are claimed to harm Germany’s national interest or economy. In contrast, populism does not play a prominent role. That is the case despite the AfD frequently talking of people-centrism, and the ‘core people’ appear to be at the heart of its framing strategy.
... The success of the far-right populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) is widely considered a caesura in post-war Germany. While the commemoration of the Holocaust and Second World War to the country's (supposedly) successful coming to terms with and having 'learned the lessons' from its perpetrator past (Forchtner 2016) had been considered to constitute a firm bulwark against the rise of radical right parties, the AfD constituted the end of this "German containment" (Art 2018). While this makes the AfD in Germany hardly 'just another' case of radical right populism in Europe, this paper develops an approach that understands contemporary far-right populism (in Germany) as counter-hegemonic affective landscape that challenges the dominant affective order through attuning political subjects to alternative ways of being and of feeling into the world (Ahmed, 2004a(Ahmed, , 2004b(Ahmed, , 2014. ...
... Since 2015, the AfD is univocally classified as far-right, right-wing or radical right populist party, implying that an ethno-nationalist construction of the German people and the defamation of established parties and racialised others as enemies of the German people is a central feature of the AfD's political positioning (e.g. Art, 2018;Breeze, 2019;Decker, 2020;Fawzi, 2017;Grabow, 2016;Häusler, 2018;Lees, 2018;Schmitt-Beck, 2017;Seongcheol, 2017). To underline the particular German character and historical continuities of the AfD's ideology and political positions, Häusler (2018) coined the term 'völkisch'authoritarian 1 populism to describe the AfD. ...
Conference Paper
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The worldwide process of democratic recession, now in its fourteenth consecutive year according to the Freedom House, has revived the discussion on which term to use to name the anti-democratic movements that are spreading all over the planet. The planet reacted with surprise when Jair Messias Bolsonaro, a self-declared anti-democrat, was elected in the 2018 Brazilian elections. Bolsonaro, despite having been a deputy for over 30 years, sold himself as an outsider, with the traditional populist discourse to fight the elites, spreading manichaean polarization and aiming to return to an imaginary past. Much has been discussed about authoritarianism, totalitarianism, reactionaryism, populism, fascism, among other concepts. In the specific case of fascism, there is a disagreement about the possibility of expanding and moving the concept beyond its emergence in Italy in 1920. If possible, this inevitably ends up expanding it and considering that, in a different space-time, fascism will acquire new characteristics, although it retains points that allow it to continue to be understood as such. Thus, this paper will deal with the opposition between the concepts of populism and fascism in the light of Bolsonarism, as well as its relationship with other Brazilian populist/fascist movement, the Integralism. Oppositions and similarities between the contemporary application of both objects will be worked on, taking specific characteristics as points of intersection. This will make it possible to expand the state of the art regarding the conceptual discussion of fascism and populism and to understand which concept has the best applicability for the specific case of Bolsonarism.
... One of the characteristics of the immigration-refugee crisis is the extent to which political reactions and responses to the evolving situation have generated additional fuel for the crisis. For example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's attempt to take the lead in the EU's response to the crisis in August 2015, by welcoming to Germany any and all Syrian refugees regardless of their point of entry into the EU (Hall 2015), while laudable from a moral standpoint, inflamed tensions among EU members, particularly those "frontier states" like Greece and Hungary, and created a powerful political backlash at home, propelling the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) to new heights (Art 2018). Similarly, EU efforts beginning in 2016 to distribute Syrian refugees who had been granted political asylum equitably around the EU space ran into fierce opposition from newer member states in Central and Eastern Europe, which not only made for fireworks in Brussels but also stoked populist resentments and political backlash throughout the European Union (Niemann and Zaun 2018). ...
... It has aggravated and reinforced two fault lines exposed by the Eurozone crisis. One of these resides at the level of domestic politics-populist movements and parties that drew strength from the economic upheavals beginning in 2008 found fresh political sustenance in the panic accompanying the refugee crisis; indeed, in the case of Germany the AfD essentially reinvented itself around the issue of immigration, pushing its Euroskepticism into the background (Art 2018). The second fault line cut through the European Union; it was no coincidence that precisely those member states that suffered most as a result of the Eurozone crisis, clustered on the EU's economic periphery, also struggled to cope with the significant influx of asylum seekers and economic migrants across Europe's geographical periphery. ...
... I agree with Mudde andKaltwasser's (2018, 1673) assessment that there is no need to recapitulate this debate given that it "was decided decades ago (in favor of cultural backlash.") Suffice to say that even the most skillful efforts at injecting political economy into radical right voting have consistently failed to demonstrate the centrality of economic anxiety, or the character of the welfare state, or the construction of a winning formula that combines neoliberal economic preferences with authoritarian cultural values (Art 2011). Elisabeth Ivarsflaten's (2008) finding that the only grievances that all successful radical right parties (in Western Europe) mobilize are those over immigration remains valid today. ...
... By June of 2020, two state branches of the AfD (Brandenburg and Thuringia) were under the surveillance of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, as they were ruled to be "fighting against the free democratic order." The AfD is thus better understood as a party of the refugee crisis-specifically, Merkel's response to it-even though its origins lie in the politics of the great recession (Art 2019). ...
Article
The “rise of global populism” has become a primary metanarrative for the previous decade in advanced industrial democracies, but I argue that it is a deeply misleading one. Nativism—not populism—is the defining feature of both radical right parties in Western Europe and of radical right politicians like Donald Trump in the United States. The tide of “left-wing populism” in Europe receded quickly, as did its promise of returning power to the people through online voting and policy deliberation. The erosion of democracy in states like Hungary has not been the result of populism, but rather of the deliberate practice of competitive authoritarianism. Calling these disparate phenomena “populist” obscures their core features and mistakenly attaches normatively redeeming qualities to nativists and authoritarians.
... September 15-18, 2022, Houston immigration agenda (e.g. Grabow 2016; Seongcheol 2017;Art 2018;Lees 2018;Häusler 2018;Decker 2020). While terms like far-right highlight the AfD´s ethno-nationalist and authoritarian ideals as well as their xenophobe, particularly anti-Muslim agitation, the term populism can help to understand how the AfD does not only mobilize fears of the influx of non-European migrants (Wodak 2015) but challenges the established politico-cultural order in modern Germany more fundamentally. ...
Conference Paper
When considering the far-right populist party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and its success in territories of the former GDR, existing academic approaches rarely consider the memory cultural implications and multifaceted affective underpinnings of the party´s maneuvering. Aiming to fill this gap, this paper critiques the modern German memory culture and develops an approach that is geared towards understanding the affective dimensions of the AfD’s populism. Subsequently, an analysis of social media material stemming from the East German AfD´s ‘Wende 2.0’ election campaign illustrates how the party offers its constituents an alternative way of feeling East German that constitutes itself against the state-sponsored memory culture and the hegemonic affective governance that characterizes reunified Germany.
... Furthermore, laws and policies can have a guiding influence on public debates, attitudes, and opinions towards refugees and migrated citizens -especially for parties that use anti-refugee and anti-migration sentiments for their election campaigns (Art, 2018). Finally, they determine the concept of illegality in relation to refugees and immigrants, which is reflected in the understanding shared by the host society (Suárez-Orozco et al., 2018). ...
Thesis
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The primary aim of this dissertation is to contribute to the promotion of the mental health of young refugees in Germany. The emphasis is on the interrelationships between young refugees' mental health, stress before and after migration, acculturation patterns and other culturally relevant factors related to specific migration-related contexts. The Multidimensional Intercultural Psychosocial Model (MIPM) is introduced to illustrate these complex relationships.
... An anti-immigration stance was part of its political DNA from the beginning, but it was profoundly accentuated in the course of the 2015 European migrant crisis, when AfD could capitalize on stirring nativist fears and racism in the German public. The party managed to position itself as the dominating opposition to German chancellor Angela Merkel's migration politics (Art 2018;Arzheimer and Berning 2019). It has subsequently further radicalized its stance on migration and intensified its appeal to authoritarian, anti-pluralist views, such as by openly flaunting 20th century ideas of a racist, anti-Semitic conception of German ethnic nationalism (Volksgemeinschaft), fashioning itself as a police force, and attacking the public consensus around the memory of the Holocaust in German democracy today. ...
Article
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Right-wing populists legitimize their political agenda by promoting cultural ideas. At the same time, support for right-wing populists is fueled by a sense of economic injustice. How do these two factors interact? This article addresses this question by tracing how these actors promote ‘economic narratives’ about the past. It studies how two right-wing populist parties – AfD in post-communist (former East) Germany and ANO in the Czech Republic – publicly reference and remember the disruptive nature of economic change during the transition from Communist rule to market society after 1989. Despite their notable differences, both parties offer interpretations that suggest that the structure of social recognition in market society is broken and that there is a need to repair it. They do so, first, by offering a reading of the past centered on corruption (understood, however, not as the corruption of politics by the market, but as that of market justice by politics); and second, by emphasizing resilience and a commitment to hard work, thus projecting economic strength and conjuring a notion of economic belonging (a sense of ‘us’ as subjects worthy of respect), against the backdrop of the post-1989 period.
... Öte yandan, popülizmi açıklarken başvurdukları temel değişkenler yönünden birbirinden ayrılan bu iki yaklaşımın, krizlerin popülistlerin siyasi başarılarına olumlu etki yaptığı konusunda görüş birliği içerisinde oldukları görülmektedir. 2008 küresel finans krizi, 2009 Avro krizi, 2011'de başlayıp başarısızlığa uğrayan Arap Baharı sonrası Avrupa ülkelerine yönelen göç dalgasıyla yaşanan sığınmacı krizinin popülist radikal sağ partilere yarar sağladığı literatürde geniş kabul görmektedir (Moffitt, 2015;Kriesi, Pappas, 2015;Art, 2018 Bu çalışma, bir sağlık krizine yol açan COVID-19 pandemisinin popülist radikal partiler üzerindeki etkilerini analiz etmeyi amaçlamaktadır. Öncelikle, popülist radikal sağ partilerin yükselişine yönelik farklı yaklaşımlar ışığında krizlerin bu yükselişteki rolü incelenmekte, ardından süregiden sağlık krizinin özgül yönleri vurgulanmaktadır. ...
... Founded in 2013, the AfD originally promoted a Eurosceptical, but not yet far-right agenda (Arzheimer, 2015); eventually, however, the AfD turned into a populist radical right party, especially in the course of the so-called 'refugee crisis' in 2015 and 2016. In the 2017 federal election, the AfD emerged as the largest opposition party in parliament, combining an anti-immigrant agenda with a harsh populist profile (Art, 2018). With the electoral success of the AfD, the party system became even more segmented, this time towards the right side of the spectrum. ...
Chapter
When new parties enter parliament, they pose challenges to the established actors. Not only do they represent ideological niches. They also present themselves as alternatives to the establishment, antagonize the mainstream parties, and are oftentimes genuine populists. However, little is known about how populism shapes the political discourse within legislative bodies. How does populism characterize the behavior of new parties, and how do other parties respond to the arrival of their contesters? This chapter sheds light on this issue by examining how the parliamentary discourse in Germany changed after two non-populist (Greens, PDS) and two populist parties (The Left, AfD) entered parliament. Employing a quantitative text analysis with Wordfish, the results of this inquiry show that, first, new parties often make use of populist language. Second, the arrival of new contesters does not necessarily increase polarization on their core issues. Third, the advent of genuine populists in parliament does not necessarily result in the other parties mimicking their approach. Whereas the former take a unique position with regard to their populist framings, the established parties distance themselves from them. In this respect, the result of populist representation in parliament is mutual disassociation rather than convergence.
... Since then, the conflict line has been how to deal with the far right, both internally and externally. Frauke Petry, co-leader between 2015 and 2017, failed to bring the party back to a more moderate course (Art 2018b). The struggles of the party wings have led to profound changes in the AfD's manifestos, accompanied by tangible shifts in membership. ...
Article
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Does the demand for more direct democracy by populist parties have any implications for their internal decision-making? To answer this question, a novel large-scale research project analyses the 2017 candidate selection of all Bundestag parties, including the populist Alternative for Germany. Some 1,334 individual nominations of seven parties are compared using quantitative indicators along three dimensions of intra-party democracy (IPD): competition between aspirants for candidacy, inclusion of members and nomination-related communication. It shows that the AfD is living up to its promise of practising grassroots democracy: in all results it ranks at the top by a wide margin. A new populist organizational model seems to have emerged following neither the classic hierarchical and leader-oriented mode of many other European right-wing populist parties nor the delegate assembly mode typical of German parties. Our further development of IPD concepts, newly elaborated measuring methods and surprising empirical evidence improve the understanding of democratic decision-making in populist parties.
... Nevertheless, the party's development from its founding until 2017 is seen overall as a continuous movement toward the right (Bücker et al. 2019;Siri 2017), and partly toward the political right-wing extremist sphere (Pfahl-Traughber 2019; Siri 2017). All in all, the AfD is the first radical right-wing party with representation in the Bundestag since the end of National Socialism (Art 2018;Siri 2017). ...
Article
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In this article, the authors take up the thesis of the narrative that the support for right‐wing populist election successes is located in rural areas. For the case of the German right‐wing populist party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) the authors propose a complex definition of rurality, and perform a quantitative small‐scale analysis of the national election results in Germany in 2017. They examine the potential connection between a high share of votes for the AfD and the rurality of a municipality. The results show that in eastern Germany, the fairly rural municipalities have comparatively high AfD vote shares, whereas in western Germany, the fairly rural and the non‐rural municipalities have similar AfD vote shares. Therefore, it appears that the thesis that rural areas are the source of the support of right‐wing populism applies to some, but not to all rural areas of Germany.
... Their anti-elitist outlook notwithstanding, they lacked the people-centered appeal that is typical of populist parties. 5 populist profile (Art, 2018). With the electoral success of the AfD, the party system became even more segmented, this time towards the right side of the spectrum. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
When new parties enter parliament, they pose challenges to the established actors. They not only represent ideological niches, they also present themselves as alternatives to the establishment, antagonize the mainstream parties, and are oftentimes genuine populists. However, little is known how populism shapes political discourse within legislative bodies. How does populism shape the behavior of new parties, and how do other parties respond to the arrival of their contesters? This chapter sheds light on this issue by examining how the parliamentary discourse in Germany changed after two non-populist (Greens, PDS) and two populist parties (The Left, AfD) entered parliament. Employing a quantitative text analysis with Wordfish, the results of this inquiry show that populists in parliament do not necessarily lead to increased polarization in regard to specific issues. Instead, they take a unique position with regard to their anti-establishment framings, whereas the established parties distance themselves from the populists. In this respect, the result of populist representation in parliament is mutual disassociation rather than convergence.
... Several country studies in Germany, Greece and Sweden indicate that far-right parties benefitted from the refugee crisis (e.g. Art, 2018;Dinas et al., 2019;Emilsson, 2020;Mader and Schoen, 2019;Vasilakis, 2018). The surge in support for the populist radical right suggests that the refugee crisis toughened citizens' views of immigration and strengthened an exclusively national identification. ...
Article
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What was the impact of the 2014–2016 refugee crisis on immigration attitudes and national identification in Europe? Several studies show that radical right parties benefitted electorally from the refugee crisis, but research also shows that anti-immigration attitudes did not increase. We hypothesize that the refugee crisis affected right-wing citizens differently than left-wing citizens. We test this hypothesis by combining individual level survey data (from five Eurobarometer waves in the 2014–2016 period) with country level statistics on the asylum applications in 28 EU member states. In Western Europe, we find that increases in the number of asylum applications lead to a polarization of attitudes towards immigrants between left- and right-leaning citizens. In the Southern European ‘arrival countries’ and in Central-Eastern Europe we find no significant effects. Nationalistic attitudes are also not affected significantly.
... At the same time, AfD's victory signalled the end of the German political system's containment strategy towards the far-right, which included a range of actions, from the exclusion of those forces from political coalitions to their total exclusion from the political system. 59 Since then, the AfD has seen an upward trend in electoral support at local elections, while remaining consistent at the national level. ...
Article
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With the COVID-19 pandemic dominating the public sphere in recent months and no aspect of social and political life left unaffected, it seems almost natural that this unprecedented public health crisis would soon be reflected on discussions around the other buzzword of our time: populism. This report aims at providing a concise yet rigorous global comparative mapping of populist politics in the context of the ongoing pandemic. This will not only shed further light on the specificities, the potentials and limitations of the phenomenon, but we also expect it to highlight its irreducible heterogeneity and diversity as a way of doing politics.The key questions that we posed to contributors in this report when looking at different countries across the world can be summarised as follows: • How have populist actors reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic when in government or opposition? • Has their ideological position on the left or right, or indeed somewhere inbetween, played a role to that reaction? • How have the rates of approval and vote intensions for populist actors developed during that period? • More generally, how have discussions around ‘populism’ and the role of ‘experts’ and ‘science’ developed in each country during this time? Have they reproduced standard anti-populist stereotypes? In order to shed light on these crucial aspects of the discussion and set the agenda for future comparative research as well as conceptual enquiry, we approached a series of well established scholars, along with several dynamic younger researchers specialising on both populism and the study of politics in different countries and regions. This gave us a sum of sixteen (16) case studies of countries and political actors from across the world, making the scope of our report truly global, extending from Australia to Sweden and from the Philippines to Brazil and the United States.
... Until recently, the West European far right's efforts to gain acceptance have been inhibited by its association with fascism (Art, 2018) and overt racism (Chin et al., 2009;El-Tayeb, 2011). More recently, the far right caught up with the newer trends of framing anti-Muslim racism in terms of irreconcilable cultural and religious differences ( € Ozyu¨rek, 2005;Shooman, 2014;Spielhaus, 2010). ...
Article
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Muslim, ex-Muslim as well as converted Muslim intellectuals are increasingly prominent figures in the West European far right movement. By analysing their publications and online presence, we observe that concepts utilized by Muslim-background intellectuals popular in the German far right build on two seemingly contradictory tropes of German national identity—rationality and spirituality—and a civilizationism that oscillates between notions of rational liberalism and an illiberalism based on spiritualism. As these intellectuals combine the tropes of German nationhood and European civilisation, the far right builds connections with the growing Muslim demographic in Germany. The movement provides space for a variety of Muslim-background intellectuals: those who embrace a secular-liberal self-description emphasize how rationalism is synonymous with Germanness, while those who embrace a religious self-description critique liberal rationalism as lacking spirit. In so doing, Muslim public intellectuals help the far right to simultaneously spiritualize national reason and rationalize national spirit.
... The medical term "cordon sanitaire" for this strategy of isolation indicated that they saw PRRPs as a potentially contagious disease that should be kept from spreading (Minkenberg 2006). The taboo on PRRPs and their message has been used to explain the limited support for such parties in Germany until recently (e.g., Art 2018). While the taboo on PRRPs has been widely acknowledged in the literature as an important factor determining the viability of these parties, research on the electoral consequences of the "social stigma" around these parties is very limited. ...
Article
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The ‘taboo’ or ‘stigma’ associated with many populist radical right parties (PRRPs) has been argued to be an important constraint on their electoral success. In comparison to mainstream parties, there seems to be a higher barrier keeping voters from supporting PRRPs. However, this mechanism has not been tested directly. We conducted a randomized survey‐embedded experiment manipulating the social stigma of a fictitious radical right party in Sweden. We compare three conditions. Two of these contain subtle signals about how other respondents feel about this party. In one condition the fictitious party is supported by many voters (the neutralizing condition) and in the other it is evaluated negatively by the overwhelming majority (the stigma condition). Both experimental groups do not differ significant from the control group in support for this fictitious party. However, the difference between the two experimental groups is borderline significant. This suggests that there is a causal effect of social stigma on support for a RRP, even though the evidence is rather tentative.
... Overall, it was our intention to present a case study in the best sense: we observed distinct aspects of the party, which we evaluated with different sorts of quantitative and qualitative data. Of course, many scholars have contributed through research on the AfD in the meantime (e.g., Art, 2018;Franzmann, 2016;Jankowski, Schneider, & Tepe, 2017;Kim, 2017;Lewandowsky, Giebler, & Wagner, 2016;Siri, 2018). However, through our explorative study, we were able to help understanding the AfD at the beginning of their history in their specific context. ...
Article
This case study introduces a mixed-method, explorative research project on the Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the first 2 years of its existence (2013–2014). As the debate on the early Alternative for Germany has shown, the ideological features of a new party might be inconclusive depending on the data at hand. The extended focus is therefore on the study of ideologically ambiguous new parties, and it is argued that these can be encountered by case-oriented, explorative approaches. Thus, in the early stages of its existence, the party is viewed in its entirety, examined in its political context, and evaluated by qualitative and quantitative data. The authors consider this approach as especially useful in the case of new and young parties that often lack sophisticated party platforms/manifestos. Researchers therefore often must rely on other sources. The case study presents the approach, the data basis and the structure of the research project and concludes with an evaluation of the chosen methods. It also discusses the theoretical and conceptual as well as the practical research problems that arise from studying new parties.
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This study examines the availability of populist radical right voters for mainstream parties. Are there segments within the electorate of PRRPs that can be regained by (specific) established non-populist parties? Focusing on the German context, the paper analyzes the availability of AfD voters on the electoral market. We demonstrate that relatively low availability can be traced back to the voters' distance in issue positions, the strength of populist attitudes and the interplay of distance and populist attitudes. Strong populist attitudes decrease the role of issue proximity for the likelihood of winning (back) AfD voters. Accordingly, simple repositioning towards stricter immigration laws is not a substantively profitable strategy. Our results indicate that an AfD voter's willingness to vote for an established party varies across parties. Generally, the German populist radical right voter's availability for the mainstream parties are rather low, and we shall thus discuss the strategic implication of our findings.
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This paper studies party-movement interactions in Germany, focusing on Die Linke and the AfD, the two most recent additions to Germany's multi-party system. The electoral rise of both challenger parties went along with mass protests, opposition to Hartz IV in the mid-2000s and anti-Islamic PEGIDA mobilisation in the mid-2010s. We shift the emphasis from how social movements turn into political parties, including significant organisational and personal overlap, to more indirect ways of how protest and electoral politics interact. Specifically, we identify a process composed of two interrelated mechanisms: an external politicisation spiral and an intra-party innovation spiral. We show how mass protest triggers both discursive shifts in the public sphere and internal strategic realignment, providing an opportunity for parties to ride the wave, secure their competitive advantages, and mobilise on the protestors' grievances in the electoral arena. In such a way, challenger parties can take advantage of street protests even when they do not directly emerge from a movement. Methodologically, the article is based on a paired comparison, relying on survey data and an original protest event analysis that provides novel data on anti-Hartz IV and PEGIDA protest mobilisation in Germany.
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This article examines the extent to which migrant organizations in Germany show transnational characteristics. We draw on data collected via standardized interviews with 306 secular German migrant organizations through a CATI survey and differentiate migrant organizations by their transnational activities and objectives. In effect, the cross-border aspect plays a minor role only. In line with the current research, the organizational landscape is strongly influenced by political opportunities, leading to a clearly assimilatory effect, as the German political system has become considerably more open toward the organizations in recent years. The development of migrant organizations is embedded in a progressive social integration of their clientele. So, the importance of cross-border connections is reduced over time, and the national aspect is thus of remarkable importance for the development of the organizations.
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Recent studies of right-wing political parties have stressed importance of ‘internal supply side’ of these parties leading to more party-centric explanations. Following this lead, the present paper uses an ethnographic approach to empirically explore micro-mobilisation endeavours of a German right-wing party called Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). The paper draws upon social movement studies to highlight the constitutive role of grass root AfD members in creating a position of strength for their party in Saxony. Based on original, extensive fieldwork, I argue that one of the important reasons AfD has emerged as a significant player in the eastern German state of Saxony lies in party’s skilful appropriation of standard political action repertoire. Party members not only draw upon resources embedded in their social surroundings, but by using organisational forms as frame, they are also able to shape and create favourable political opportunities for their party.
Chapter
Germany is one of the few European countries that has not had a populist radical right (PRR) party in power on either the federal or state level. As scholarly discussions on the PRR characteristics of the Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland, AfD) have been limited in recent years, its positions on health policy have received even less attention. The AfD’s positions are marked by thinness in its 2017 election manifesto and the policy programme. In the German Bundestag, the AfD tends to introduce bills on widely acknowledged health policy problems that are not always characteristic of PRR topics but can varyingly be characterized as conservative, welfare chauvinist, and welfare populist as a result of the subtle framing of topics such as Germany’s alleged dependency on pharmaceuticals from abroad. We arrived at this conclusion after analysing 30 AfD bills, four of which we discuss in detail in this chapter. All AfD bills were either rejected by the other parties or were still under discussion at the point of our analysis. The AfD’s behaviour with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic has mirrored those of other PRR practitioners in this book, questioning government’s authority to intervene with the freedom of the general public through physical distancing rules, face mask mandates, and open criticism to other science-based public health measures.
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This paper studies whether exposure to anti-immigrant sentiment in the online context affects the willingness to support an openly anti-immigration party, and shows how gender moderates the effect. We designed an online experiment in which participants were invited to an online forum to discuss immigration issues. We manipulate the social acceptability of xenophobic views by exposing participants to an increasing proportion of comments with anti-immigrant content. As a proxy for open support for anti-immigrant policies, we ask participants to donate to a well-known German party with a strong anti-immigration discourse: Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany). We find no evidence that exposure to increasing social acceptability of xenophobic content affected the willingness to donate. In an exploratory analysis, we find that women are particularly reluctant to donate after the anti-immigrant comments raised normative concerns. The results can shed light on the heterogeneous effect of counter-normative discourses on support for anti-immigrant parties.
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A widespread view on the success of populist far-right parties is that they mobilise economically left-behind voters via a backward-looking, nostalgic and thus illegitimate agenda. Yet, recent research has shown that it is often wealthy areas that vote for the German populist far-right AfD. Drawing on nationalism, memory-studies and social-movement literature, this article examines how nostalgia drives the activism of well-off local intellectual far-right groups. Based on ethnographic data gathered in Dresden, I argue that far-right intellectual activism in East Germany is facilitated by the convergence of two distinct but related forms of nostalgia. First, a positive nostalgia for a guilt-free past. Second, a negative nostalgia characterized not by a celebration of socialism, but the resistance to it. As multidirectional nostalgia this convergence makes the far right’s political memory resonate with local individual and social memories providing the cultural opportunity structure for electoral success. Infused with a forward-looking ‘anxious hope’, it prefigures an alternative far-right future.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Populist radical right parties (PRR) have experienced numerous electoral success across Europe in the recent years. However, what has found less attention generally is their heterogeneous ideological composition. We highlight the case of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and show that inner-party conflicts can arise on the traditional left-right dimension as well as regarding authoritarian-libertarian values. Drawing on voters’ and candidates’ data from the 2017 German Longitudinal Election Survey alongside the 2018 ALLBUS German Social Survey, we find that both voters and AfD candidates in Germany exhibit significant differences across East and West Germany. Both tend to be (a) more authoritarian as well as (b) left-wing economically. Thus, the AfD resembles a ‘typical’ PRR party in West Germany but is much ideologically closer to PRR parties of Central and Eastern Europe in East Germany. The findings have important implications for the AfD itself but also for the broader literature on PRR parties in Central-Eastern Europe.
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Until 2017, Germany was an exception to the success of radical right parties in postwar Europe. We provide new evidence for the transformation of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) to a radical right party drawing upon social media data. Further, we demonstrate that the AfD's electorate now matches the radical right template of other countries and that its trajectory mirrors the ideological shift of the party. Using data from the 2013 to 2017 series of German Longitudinal Elections Study (GLES) tracking polls, we employ multilevel modelling to test our argument on support for the AfD. We find the AfD's support now resembles the image of European radical right voters. Specifically, general right-wing views and negative attitudes towards immigration have become the main motivation to vote for the AfD. This, together with the increased salience of immigration and the AfD's new ideological profile, explains the party's rise.
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