Blog posts on the Extreme Right

The Extreme Right (or Radical Right, New Right, Populist Right) is one of my main research interests. Here is a collection of blog posts on the Extreme Right (i.e. parties, voters, policies) that I have written over the years. If this is relevant for you, you might also be interested in the 400+ titles bibliography on the Extreme Right that I maintain and in this page, which summarises much of my work on the Extreme Right.

Mar 222015
 
Putsch in the AfD?

Strife within the AfD

In my recent West European Politics Article on the AfD (ungated pre-print still here), I argue that the party’s official position (i.e. their EP 2014 manifesto, their website and their social media activities) is soft-eurosceptic and not right-wing populist: For them, the enemy is Athens and the profligacy of the Greeks, not Islam, Turkey, or the Roma. I also argue that this official party line is very much shaped by party co-founder and co-chair Bernd Lucke, and that others disagree, not least because many AfD voters are (or were) not particularly concerned about the Euro and orthodox economics, but very much in favour of restrictions on immigration.

Putsch in the AfD?

The AfD and Bruce Springsteen. You would have to ask @BDStanley what it means.

Like any new party, the AfD is made up of various groups, wings, and tendencies. Christian fundamentalists mingle with economic liberals; disappointed conservative Christian democrats mix with former members of Germany’s extreme right parties (although the AfD tries to enforce a ban on those). A year or so ago, we used to talk about “liberals”, “conservatives”, and a third faction in the middle which tried to build bridges. But now, we’re apparently down to two “wings”: Lucke’s economic liberals (who are also socially conservative), and those who want a tougher, more nationalist party. Incidentally, this split seems to be reinforced by an East-West conflict within the AfD, with the electorally successful Eastern chapters more inclined to play the right-wing populist card.

The AfD Putsch: State of Play

A week ago, the state party in Thuringia drew up the “Erfurter Resolution”, a manifesto that aims to drum up support for a more nationalist orientation of the party. So far, they have collected more than 1,500 signature by party members (the total number is about 21,000), and roughly the same number of “likes” on Facebook. The latter figure seems a bit disappointing, and Facebook’s statistics actually show a rapidly falling rate of new likes. Why the right-wingers chose to call themselves “der Flügel” (the wing, or tendency) when they claim to speak for the centre of the party is anyone’s guess. Once, more, it must have been Amateur Night in Erfurt.

Counterstrike: The “Germany Resolution”

On Wednesday, Arch-Economic Liberal (TM) Hans-Olaf Henkel and three of his MEP colleagues have published another manifesto, the “Deutschland-Resolution” (“Germany Resolution”), which calls for unity, but attacks the Erfurt Manifesto. This is much cleverer framing, as “Germany” embodies unity and refers to the party name. But for all purposes and intents, we are now looking at two wings clustered around two manifestos, with the letter apparently being less popular (just 388 likes so far). They haven’t published anything on the number of signatories yet.

A split in the AfD in Thuringia

But the who could be more relevant than the how many in this case, and the short list Henkel and friends have put online is interesting for two reasons: First, there is a number of second-tier party functionaries from the West, further hinting at a regional split, and second, there are the signatures of three state-level MPs for the AfD from Thuringia, who were expected to sign the Erfurt declaration last week, but did not. That means that the AfD delegation in the Thuringia state parliament is effectively split down the middle.

Commercial Break: And Then, There is Always Marcus Pretzell

pretzell photo

Photo by blu-news.org

In my article, I have singled out Marcus Pretzell, another AfD MEP, as a representative of the more right-wing populist wing. He rose to prominence (well, amongst us spotters) when – against Lucke’s express wishes – he invited Nigel Farage to address the party faithful. Now Pretzell, a lawyer and property developer, is making headlines again, because he owes the tax man a lot of money. Apparently, Pretzell would not answer the increasingly urgent letters, and the Man could not find Pretzell at his address, so the authorities decided to dock some money from the AfD’s account (Pretzell is also state party chair in North Rhine-Westphalia). While the monies have been returned to the AfD, and while this could eventually reduce Pretzell’s role as a troublemaker, it is not exactly great publicity for the party and may, as Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung shrewdly observes, mess up their credit rating for ages.

Stay Tuned

Meanwhile, Bernd Lucke has signed neither declaration, which seems wise. Frauke Petry, currently his co-chair and his most plausible competitor for the future single leadership post, is biding here time, too. I don’t think that this is the beginning of the end for the AfD, but the tensions have become much more visible in recent months, and a split of the party is beginning to look like a distinct possibility. Of course, rifts in the AfD are nothing new, but so far, they were framed as clashes between personalities, or as conflict over the future structure of the party (read: power struggles). The public debate about conflicting manifestos and the ideologies they represent may mark the point at which voters begin to wonder what the party actually stands for.

Mar 172015
 
2933364227_72cf97b8f0_Update-on-the-Afd-Putsch

“Der Flügel” (the “wing” or “tendency”) within Germany’s AfD that drew up the Erfurt manifesto, which calls for a more radical rightist approach to politics, claims that more than 700 people have signed the declaration within the first 24 hours. Taking a leaf out of the social-media savvy main party’s book, they have created a Facebook page, which has attracted 1,300 likes so far.

Update on the Afd

Photo by sludgegulper

The Thüringer Allgemeine newspaper reports that at least initially, only five of the party’s eleven delegates in the state parliament of Thuringia have signed the declaration, and that the CDU state party’s maverick leader has offered the others a new political home with the Christian Democrats. Meanwhile, Lucke and Petry seem determined to wait and see what comes out of this (if anything).

Photo by sludgegulper

Mar 152015
 
16457560655_f7286482d4_lucke-gauland

In a recent research paper, I conclude that judging by their EP 2014 manifesto, the ‘Alternative for Germany’ is currently not a right-wing populist party. But I also argue that some members of the party elite “represent less savoury brands of right-wing politics that could ultimately prove more attractive to voters than Lucke’s polite exercises in economic theory. Just how long the party resists that temptation remains to be seen.” It would seem that we may have reached that point.

lucke gauland photo

Going different ways? Bernd Lucke & Alexander Gauland

Photo by blu-news.org

The struggle for the AfD’s heart and soul is of course an ongoing process, but developments have sped up a bit in recent weeks. A month ago, the AfD did well, but not too well, in a regional election in the city state of Hamburg, Lucke’s hometown. Their local campaign had highlighted the pro-capitalist, market-liberal elements in the party’s ideology, avoiding references to Islam and Pegida. At the press conferences, the local party chair was sidelined by Lucke, who applauded this course, as well as by grumbling representatives of the electorally more successful Eastern state parties, who had not been invited to support their Western brethren’s campaign.

Yesterday, a conference of the AfD state party in Thuringia voted for the ‘Erfurt Declaration’, a strong-worded manifesto that expresses concern about the normalisation/moderation of the party. Without naming names, the manifesto criticises ‘technocracy’ (that’s a reference to Lucke), ‘cowardice’ and even – gasp – the ‘selling out of our national interest’ – anathema to every right-winger worth his/her salt, and another not too subtle reference to Lucke’s performance in the European Parliament. The signatories reject the official, sceptical party line on Pegida (a ‘civic movement’, according to the manifesto), demand a ‘fundamental political change in Germany’ and claim to give voice to widespread disappointment within the party, ‘particularly in the East’.

The manifesto even aims to bring together all those who represent a ‘true alternative’ to the established party system (as opposed to the Ersatz liberalism that Lucke is delivering). The authors of the manifesto have also set up a facebook page and website called ‘der Flügel’ (the wing, or tendency) for the manifesto. More importantly, Alexander Gauland, party leader in Brandenburg, party founding father and one of the more prominent representatives of the nationalist wing within the party, has signed up.

So a true (and Eastern) alternative within the Alternative is stirring. Is this the Putsch already? Stay tuned.

Photo by blu-news.org

Feb 082015
 

The utterly erratic and ridiculously eclectic bibliography on far-right parties and their voters has been online for nearly five years now and contains just under 500 references. Obviously, it’s time for some semi-serious statistical analysis. To kick things off, I’m looking at the distribution of articles across journals, which is dominated by (surprise!) European and comparative outfits.

rightwing photoPhoto by Gueоrgui

Here is the full table:

Journal No of Articles
European Journal of Political Research 36
West European Politics 29
Party Politics 15
Acta Politica 12
Electoral Studies 11
Comparative Political Studies 10
Parliamentary Affairs 9
Osteuropa 7
Patterns of Prejudice 6
{\”O}sterreichische Zeitschrift f{\”u}r Politikwissenschaft 5
Political Psychology 5
Scandinavian Political Studies 5
Comparative European Politics 5
British Journal of Political Science 5
American Sociological Review 5
European Sociological Review 4
Government and Opposition 4
Political Studies 4
Ethnic and Racial Studies 4
Journal of Political Ideologies 3
American Journal of Political Science 3
Comparative Politics 3
Swiss Political Science Review 3
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 3
Journal of Social Issues 2
Contemporary European History 2
K{\”o}lner Zeitschrift f{\”u}r Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 2
Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 2
International Journal of Public Opinion Research 2
American Political Science Review 2
European Union Politics 2
European Political Science Review 2
Social Forces 2
The Journal of Politics 2
Acta Sociologica 2
European Journal of Social Theory 1
Journal of Civil Society 1
Totalitarian Movements \& Political Religions 1
Political Behavior 1
Dansk Sociologi 1
Oxford Economic Papers 1
Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions 1
East European Politics and Societies 1
Comparative Governance and Politics 1
Review of Politics 1
Rationality and Society 1
East European Politics 1
The SAIS Review of International Affairs 1
Pacific Sociological Review 1
Central European Political Studies Review 1
Socio-Economic Review 1
International Political Science Review 1
Studies in Comparative International Development 1
Journal of Contemporary European Research 1
European Journal of Social Psychology 1
Sociology of Religion 1
Sociological Quarterly 1
American Journal of Sociology 1
Political Research Quarterly 1
Journal of Peace Research 1
Annual Review of Psychology 1
Journal of Theoretical Politics 1
Die Union 1
new community 1
Geojournal 1
German Politics 1
Review of Religious Research 1
Annual Review of Sociology 1
Comparative European Politcs 1
Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte 1
Personality and Individual Differences 1
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 1
Regional Politics and Policy 1
conflict \& communication online 1
Social Science Quarterly 1
Revue Politique et Parlementaire 1
Partisan Review 1
International Journal of Comparative Sociology 1
Journal of Modern Italian Studies 1
Public Opinion Quarterly 1
Social Behavior and Personality 1
Political Science Quarterly 1
Journal of European Public Policy 1
Political Communication 1
International Journal of Sociology 1
Australian Journal of Politics and History 1
Theory and Society 1
Leviathan 1
Feb 072015
 

The good people at Taylor & Francis have kindly ungated my AfD article in West European Politics, after a fashion. If you don’t have an institutional subscription for WEP, you may click here to gain access to the full text anyway. However, this link is limited to 50 clicks, so if your institution has subscribed to WEP, be a good egg and rather use this ordinary DOI-based link through the paywall. And failing all that, the ungated author’s version is here.

afd photoPhoto by blu-news.org

Feb 012015
 

The AfD’s national party conference has approved a change to the party’s constitution will give the party a simplified leadership structure, which will more closely resemble those of the dreaded ‘Altparteien’ (‘old’ or established parties) CDU, CSU, FDP, and SPD. After a period of transition, the AfD will have a single ‘Vorsitzender’ (party chair), supported by a ‘Generalsekretär’ (a subordinate managerial role). Currently, the party has three ‘speakers’ (chairs), all with equal powers and responsibilities, and so is closer to the model chosen by the Left and the Greens who each employ two party chairs to give equal representation to both sexes (as well as to various factions).

Bernd Lucke, one of the current speakers who has very much been the party’s public face since the 2013 campaign, has tried to push through this change for at least a year. At the conference, he rather undiplomatically complained that the other two were creating confusion and delay, and that he was often left with the task to clean up after them. He also hinted that he wants this job – but so does Frauke Petry (who has recently become very cosy with Pegida). This is not just a clash of personalities – rather Lucke and Petry seem to represent different trajectories for the future development of the party.

lucke petry photoPhoto by blu-news.org

Dec 212014
 

I am pleased to be able to inform you that the editors are happy with the revisions you made to your article and we can now proceed to publication.

I could not agree more. The revised article will appear in 2015, possibly rather late. Meanwhile, the author’s version of my piece on Germany’s Alternative party (which shows, amongst other things, that the AfD has positioned itself very close to the governing CSU (or vice versa?) is available here.

Dec 072014
 

Various news outlets reported this afternoon that there had been talks, perhaps even agreement between the (state) CDU and the (state) AfD to prevent Ramelow from being elected Minister-President. Obviously, nothing came out of this (neither party put a candidate on the slate), but still: Wither the blessing of the leadership, Merkel has created a cordon sanitaire between CDU and the AfD. Talks with the intention of forming a coalition, or at least gaining AfD support for a CDU minority government would be an act of open rebellion.Thuringia photoPhoto by Tjflex2