The Extreme/Radical Right in Europe is one of my main research interests, and for many years, there had been no (successful) party in Germany to occupy this particular place in the political spectrum. This makes the AfD's rise particularly intriguing for me. Besides writing long-form articles on the party and their voters, I also blog (too much) about them. Here are my most recent posts.
My old chums at Essex have kindly invited me back to the departmental seminar. This used to involve tricky questions, questions that were really comments, and (afterwards, as this is not Downing Street), wine, cheese, and good company. These days, we have Zoom, which is better than nothing, I suppose.
The strong gray line shows (smoothed) support for the Alternative in public opinion polls (FGW and Infratest). The boost in 2016 that followed the “refugee crisis” is clearly visible, as well as another peak in 2018 after the party entered the Bundestag. It is also clear that support for the party has declined since then and has been more or less stable through the pandemic.
The circles represent state election results, with black markers for the eastern and hollow markers for the western states. The difference in support is striking and remains stable over the whole period. There is also considerable variation within both blocks. “Mitteldeutschland” (the southern part of the former GDR) stands as an AfD stronghold.
Squares and diamonds represent the party’s results in nationwide (Bundestag and EP) elections. The east-west gap is very visible here, too. In the 2021 Bundestag election, the party won 20.5 per cent of the vote in the east, but only 8.2 per cent in the west.
In Germany’s parliaments, the other parties have created a cordon sanitaire around the AfD – and rightfully so. Deutsche Welle has an interesting article on this subject, with some input from Isabelle Borucki and yours truly.
Mit Maria Fiedler vom Tagesspiegel habe ich über den aktuellen Wahlkampf der AfD und die möglichen Perspektiven der Partei nach der Bundestagswahl 2021 gesprochen. Erfreulicherweise gibt es keine Paywall
Mit Stefanie Witte habe ich über das (oft unparlamentarische) Verhalten der AfD im Bundestag und den Landtagen und die Reaktionen der anderen Parteien gesprochen. Der Artikel ist in der Schweriner Volkszeitung und verschiedenen anderen Zeitungen erschienen, ist aber anscheinend überall hinter einer Paywall verborgen.
The prosecutor for Berlin is investigating the AfD’s treasurer over support the party received from the association-for-whatnot (see #6 below). Printing and distributing newspapers that are essentially campaign material amounts to making a donation, the prosecutor thinks – a donation that the party failed to declare in two consecutive years. The services donated were worth a “low six-digit figure”.
Update April 16, 2019
The Bundestag’s central administration, which is charge of state funding for parties, has ordered the AfD to pay a fine of €402,900, i.e. three times the value of the services received by Meuthen (see point #3 below) and Reil (point #5). It is likely that the party will also be fined over the donations to Weidel. The AfD had set aside a million Euros to cover for fines.
What is the matter with Alternative for Germany’s finances?
Just in time for the upcoming European elections, new details on Alternative for Germany’s donation scandals emerge. Yes, scandals is in the plural, and the wailing sound in the background is the of “fake news!” from the party’s faithful. So what is the matter?
The AfD loves to talk about the “Altparteien” (the old parties, i.e. the establishment, the spent forces etc.). This is in itself a nice show of political mimicry: “Altparteien” is what the Greens used to call the trinity of Social Democrats, Christian Democrats, and Liberals, when they rose as a radical alternative to politics as usual in the 1990s.
Follow the money
In the 1980s and 1990s, the latter two parties executed bypassing rules on party financing to near-perfection. As a reaction to this, rules for transparency have been somewhat tightened, and more importantly, enforcement has become a bit stricter.
Now the “Alternative” has taken a whole bunch of leaves from the old parties’ playbook. For your edification and because I’m losing track, here is a list of the top-seven financial scandals in which the party is currently involved.
7 8 financial scandals in which Alternative for Germany is currently involved
Alice Weidel, the co-leader of the AfD’s parliamentary group in the Bundestag, is under investigation for receiving 150,000 Euros in 18 neat tranches from a company in Switzerland, which would be illegal under German law. Extraordinarily, the company claims that they merely provided a facade for illegal cash flows originating in Germany. As you do. Both Swiss and German authorities are on the case.
Then there is the long-running story of an obscure “association for the rule of law and the protection of civil liberties”, which has spent big time on advertising for the “Alternative” but claims to be independent of the party. If co-ordination between the organisation can be proven, the AfD would be fined heavily. It goes without saying that the association is also connected to “Goal”.