AFD’S RISE: THE HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT ON GERMAN POLITICS
Arroyo, Jeffrey W.
Halladay, Carolyn C.
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Germany’s newest right-wing party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), burst on to Germany’s political stage in 2013 and has achieved more success than any German right-wing party since 1949. The resurgence of the German right wing has caused concern for many who still remember the legacy of National Socialism, and the wave of right-wing populism that has swept Europe has exacerbated those fears. Is AfD’s rise, although significant, really a threat to the established German political order? Can AfD really influence German politics and foreign policy? These questions are answered by placing AfD’s rise into the historical context of Germany’s far–right wing since 1949. The analysis of all right-wing parties since 1949, to include the AfD, reveals key continuities in the German extreme right. These continuities have contributed to the inability of the far right to gain political representation at the national level or to sustain long-term success at the state level. The analysis indicates that AfD is simply the latest iteration, or fifth wave, of the German extreme right since 1949, and is likely to fail just like all its predecessors. Although AfD’s long-term success is unlikely, its influence on contemporary German politics has been substantial. AfD’s political activism has called Merkel’s rule into question, potentially creating the possibility for new coalitions that will shift political power toward the center-left.
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