Publication Date

April 2019

Advisor(s)

Cecilia Miller

Major

College of Social Studies

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

In 2017, the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), which translates to the Alternative for Germany, became the first radical-right party in the postwar era, to join German parliament. The AfD far surpassed the 5 percent threshold for representation with a 12.6% electoral result, becoming the third-largest party in parliament, in September 2017. The recent success of the European far-right has been well-documented and, curiously, the AfD rose to power in the midst of a robust macroeconomic climate for Germany, a period of record low unemployment and robust economic growth, to overcome longstanding, postwar stigmas repressing the German radical-right. Political safeguards, including a 5 percent threshold for parliamentary representation and the banning of anti-democratic parties in the country, have been a potent deterrent to past radical-parties in the country. Campaigning on a platform that identified, incited, and radicalized anti-immigrant sentiment in the country, the AfD’s penchant for controversy and uncompromising positions proved to be unexpectedly attractive to portions of the German electorate. It will be argued that, while anti-immigrant sentiment is prevalent across Europe, Germany, in particular, has had a complex relationship with immigrants and was not, from a political standpoint, prepared to admit over 1 million refugees in 2015, which bolstered the AfD’s appeal. Moreover, there are a set of key conditions that facilitated the AfD’s rise, including the weakness of established political parties and a disjointed European migration policy.

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