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.

Oct 202016

For the past 15 years or so, I have maintained an extensive collection of references on the Radical/Extreme/Populist/New/Whatever Right in Western Europe. Because I love TeX and other command line tools of destruction, these references live in a large BibTeX file. BibTeX is a well-documented format for bibliographic text files that has been around for decades and can be written and read by a large number of reference managers.

Because BibTeX is so venerable, it’s unsurprising that there is even an R package (RefManageR) that can read and write BibTeX files, effectively turning bibliographic data into a dataset that can be analysed, graphed and otherwise mangled to one’s heart’s desire. And so my totally unscientific analysis of the Radical Right literature (as reflected in my personal preferences and interests) is just three lines of code away:

# read
ex <- ReadBib("/home/kai/Work/bibliography/xr-bibliography/extreme-right-western-europe-bibliography.bib")
year publications
2014 34
2012 38
2000 42
2002 54
2015 57

So 2012, 2014 and 2015(!) saw a lot of publications that ended up on my list, but 2000 and particularly 2002 (the year Jean-Marie Le Pen made it into the second round of the French presidential election) were not bad either. 2013 and 2003 (not listed) were also relatively strong years, with 33 publications each.

To get a more complete overview, it’s best to plot the whole time series (ignoring some very old titles):


There is a distinct upwards trend all through the 1990s, a post-millenial decline in the mid-naughties (perhaps due to the fact that I completed a book manuscript then and became temporarily negligent in my collector’s duties, but I don’t think so), and then a new peak during the last five years, undoubtedly driven by recent political events and countless eager postdocs and PhD students. I’m just beginning to understand the structure of data objects that RefManageR creates from my bibliography, but I think it’s time for some league tables next.

Oct 062016

Wonder about recent and previous research on the Radical Right? Here is a public service announcement: Since at least some leaves are brown and the sky is mostly grey, it must be time for the autumn update to the ever more eclectic (and erratic!) bibliography on the Radical/Extreme Right in Western Europe. This is a major revision: Since the spring edition, the bibliography has grown from 506 to 613 titles on the New/Radical/Populist/Extreme/You-Know-What-I-Mean Right (that’s a cool 21% increase). The growth is mostly due to a wealth of new articles that have appeared in the last couple of years. Unlike in previous editions, I have included an number of titles that are still on my to-read list, purely on the grounds that they look interesting. As always, please send me your suggestions for further additions to the list.

Photo by gadl

Sep 162016

The good folks over at CEMES are running a lecture series on the “New Political Right in Continental Europe“. What’s even better: they have kindly invited me to talk about Germany. Here is the abstract of my presentation:german-far-right-copenhagen-0

For decades, Germany has been a tough ground for the Radical Right. Support for right-wing parties such as the DVU, NPD, or REP was inconsistent and mostly confined to the local and regional levels, chiefly because these parties remained tied to National Socialism, rendering them unpalatable to (most) voters. This has changed with the rise of the new “Alternative for Germany” (AfD), which, in September 2013, only months after its inception, came tantalisingly close to the five-percent threshold in the 2013 General election. Since then, the AfD has entered ten state parliaments and seems firmly on its way to become a national political force that will, at a minimum, make coalition formation much more difficult. This talk aims at giving an overview of the party, its relationship with the wider right-wing sector in Germany, and its position vis-a-vis other Radical Right parties in Europe.

Update: Slides are now available for viewing/download

Sep 052016

The result of yesterday’s regional election in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania (aka Mecklenburg-Vorpommern for the initiated or Meck-Pomm for the impatient) was not a surprise, but still a shock to many. I wrote a short article for the LSE’s EUROPP blog.

Angela Merkel’s CDU came third behind the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the German Social Democrats (SPD) in elections in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania on 4 September. Kai Arzheimer writes that wh…

Head over to EUROPP – The AfD’s second place in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania illustrates the challenge facing Merkel in 2017 for the full article.

Jul 272016

In a press statement this morning, the AfD’s deputy leader Alexander Gauland (who is also head of the party’s chapter and the parliamentary party in the Eastern state of Brandenburg) has demanded a (temporary) ban on Muslims seeking refuge in Germany “until all asylum seekers in Germany have been registered, checked upon, and have their applications processed”. No, I don’t know how this should work in practice (if it was constitutional) either. But it’s nice step towards the Trumpification of European Politics.Refugee Ship Silhouette

Here is the (German language) source.

Mar 122016

The Extreme Right in Germany never fails to amaze. For those who think that the NPD – currently under threat to be banned because of their family resemblance with the original Hitler party – has gone to soft & mainstream, there is a tiny newish party that has a more … traditional … approach to politics. The party is contesting Exhibit 1 is a screenshot from their web page.
“Stop the flood of asylum seekers” and “close the borders” (on the left) are pretty much mainstream these days. The AfD uses very similar slogans, though with a less Teutonic font (look at those Roman numerals!)

But the barcode on the right instructs the aspiring nationalist how to spot products made in Israel. Right.
Exhibit 2 is even more revealing. It shows a map of refugee shelters in Germany, along with a “German winter relief” poster that could be straight from the 1940s. But my favourite is the picture in the bottom right, which calls for the destruction of Capitalism, which is to be replaced by “German Socialism”. This is otherwise known as “National Socialism”.

The name of this outfit? “Der Dritte Weg”, or The Third Way. Eat your heart out, Anthony Giddens.

Mar 122016

Mit Katrin Heise von Deutschlandradio Kultur habe ich ein ausführliches über Rechtspopulismus gestern und heute und über den Umgang mit der AfD geführt.

Mar 112016

On Wednesday, I was live on NPR’s Worldview program talking about the possible ban of the NPD, the rise of the AfD, and the implications for the EU. That sounds like a lot of acronyms, but then again, 15 minutes was more than the 90 seconds of soundbites I had budgeted for 🙂


Mar 042016
Unbalanced Scale Silhouette

After a subjective decade, the trial that could lead to a ban of the right-wing extremist NPD, Germany’s oldest surviving Extreme Right party, has finally begun this week. That alone is news: Last time around, a blocking minority of the judges was so concerned about the unknown informers within the party’s leadership that the proceedings came to an end during the pre-trial phase. But to dissolve the party, six of the eight judges will have to vote in favour of a ban.

So what have we learned from three days of hearings? Not too much, actually. The court’s president said that this time, they were not fussed about any informers, but that was clear from the day that a date for the hearing was announced.

On the second day, the judges posed some very awkward questions to the counsel for the prosecution. After all, the NPD is nearly bankrupt, has only several thousand members, and has lost most of its parliamentary representation a while ago. There were some points in its 50+ year history when it has been weaker, but not too many, so why ban it now? So everyone was mentally preparing for yet another embarrassing failure to get rid of the NPD.Unbalanced Scale Silhouette

But then, on the final day of the hearings, the mood seemed to change: Experts and witnesses from the north-eastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the party’s remaining stronghold of sorts, spoke of the atmosphere of fear and threats that has engulfed many villages and smaller towns in this region. According to their testimony, the NPD forms the organisational backbone of a large-scale right-wing extremist network for which they provide funds and political cover. Although their membership and electoral support are dwindling, they could pose a danger to democracy, at least at the regional level. The judges seemed quite impressed.

So what will happen next? We don’t know. The judges will now ponder the evidence for an indefinite number of months before they come up with a verdict. If they decide that the party is indeed unconstitutional, this would be the first such ban since 1956, and the NPD might challenge the decision in the European Court of Human Rights, creating unprecedented legal complications. And if the court throws out the case again, it does not take a seer to predict that there will be no new attempt to ban a party in a couple of decades. Either way, their verdict will be a landmark in the legal-constitutional history of the Federal Republic.