Support for Alternative for Germany (AfD) in July 2023: high, but (not yet) through the roof

For the last couple of months or so, everything anyone in Germany has been talking about is the seemingly unstoppable rise of Alternative for Germany. The party has recently made some inroads into local government that do have some national significance. At the same time, the party is doing very well in the polls nationally for the first time since 2018, which does not bode well for the 2024 state elections in the east and contributes to a sense of futility and doom that is the hallmark of any major or minor crisis in German Politics. With the start of the holiday/silly season, doom polling has reached a level of intensity where the (often elusive) bandwagon effect may actually occur and some shy AfD supporters coming out of the woodwork may shift the needle by a point or two.

Support for Alternative for Germany (AfD) in July 2023: high, but (not yet) through the roof 1

Against this backdrop, I did some gentle poll pooling back at the beginning of June to get an idea whether the rise in the polls was real. The main result (see the graph above) was that yes, the AfD have finally left the valley of stagnation they entered just before the pandemic and have done rather well since they started their anti-Ukraine, anti-renewables, anti-woke, anti-whatever campaign in autumn 2022.

Since then, there have been five more weeks of polling by reasonably reputable outfits. And so I thought I might as well use another Sunday that comes with an official warning for extreme heat to zoom in on the last four months or so of AfD support. Here is the result.

Support for Alternative for Germany (AfD) in July 2023: high, but (not yet) through the roof 2

The graph shows that after a slow increase of one or two points during March and April, something slightly more dramatic happened between mid-May and now. While we can be reasonably certain that AfD support was just below 16 per cent on Mayday, it is now between 19 and 20 per cent, i.e. 3-4 points higher. That’s a considerable jump. Having said that, it also seems that most of this shift happened in May: the 0.8 point increase since mid-June is not statistically significant. Of course, this may change over the next couple of days, when more surveys for the first half of July come in, and it would be utterly foolish anyway to extrapolate some sort of trend from these data.

So to recap, yes, AfD support is higher than it has ever been, and yes, they had a particularly good summer so far. For a long time, many people, including me, have assumed that their potential (nationally) is not higher than 20 per cent or so. Over the next month, there is an excellent chance to test this hypothesis. Stay tuned.

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