Challenging The Status Quo: The Rise And Implications Of Germany’s AfD – OpEd


The rise of the Alternative, for Germany (AfD) in politics poses a threat not only to Germany but also to the broader European Union. Initially viewed as a fringe party it has now gained prominence within the right-wing populist movement across Europe. This essay will explore the AfD ascent in Germany its underlying factors and its implications not only for Germany but for Europe as a whole.

We will examine upcoming trends and policy shifts in response to the AfD. What are the potential political and economic ramifications for Europe and North America? A crucial aspect of our analysis will be to investigate how these developments could impact structures. If this party’s influence grows what might that signify for Germany’s fabric?

Established in 2013 by a group of free-market economists who were dissatisfied, with the bailouts provided to European nations during the Eurozone crisis the AfD emerged when Chancellor Angela Merkel led the Christian Democrats (CDU) and its Bavarian counterpart, the Christian Social Union (CSU) in government.

The creators of the AfD mostly consisted of long-time supporters of the CDU who became disillusioned with the party’s deviation, from a market-oriented economic policy. After the beginning, the AfD gained momentum during the 2014 European Parliament elections. However, the party struggled to gain influence, especially with its limited number of initially elected representatives on the European stage. They mainly focused on duties. Due, to re-elections introducing unfamiliar faces the far-right orientation of the AfD often seemed inconsequential until it decided to change its approach.

During the crisis, the AfD capitalized on fears and concerns surrounding migration security issues and societal unrest to further its agenda. The rise of the Alternative, for Germany (AfD) has had an impact on politics. Despite criticism of their party platform for being seen as xenophobic and Islamophobic, many AfD supporters express a distrust in mainstream politics and dissatisfaction with the direction established parties are taking the country. These voters resonate with the AfD as a party that not only promises to shield them from changes they perceive as threatening but also aims to reverse these changes to create a society governed by the AfD that offers more favourable economic and social conditions akin to what was experienced in the former GDR.

The AfD has made gains in success securing 12.6 per cent of the vote in the 2017 federal election positioning it as the third-largest party in the Bundestag. This achievement follows its performance in 13 out of 16 state elections held between 2016 and 2017. Despite being relatively young at four years old the AfD has managed to find a balance between its moderate factions contributing to its grassroots success. The results of the September 2021 election further solidified the AfD influence, in politics.

The emergence of this party has prompted mainstream parties to reconsider their views, on national identity and immigration. These are pressing issues that directly impact the voters who have switched their allegiance to the AfD. In an attempt to win them back the CDU/CSU and the SPD have somewhat shifted towards a stance similar to that of the AfD.

The influence of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party extends far beyond Germany’s borders. Not do they wield power within their own country but they also possess the ability to shape policies across the European Union. They stand out as one of the parties within an EU member state critical of the EU direction in terms of policies and integration. The success of AfD may embolden right and populist movements in Europe leading them to consider forming alliances.

The rise of AfD further complicates Germany’s stance on EU support and government stability. This has implications for what can be achieved by the EU and how efficiently it can do so—determining which policies can be implemented. It underscores the struggle, between interests and shared European priorities.

It’s no secret that not all Germans share the hopes and dreams when it comes to EU policies. The AfD, a part of the category of ‘Right Wing Populism’ is gaining prominence across Europe. This political ideology offers both promises and threats – a pledge, for increased democracy and responsiveness to people’s concerns during challenges. In Germany, the AfD represents a voice from the right with nationalist populist leanings and an authoritarian social agenda that challenges the standing liberal establishment post World War II. Understanding why voters are drawn to parties like Alternative for Germany (AfD) is crucial for maintaining stability and unity, in the European Union. To do so we need to delve into what attracts supporters to these parties and the underlying fears and uncertainties that influence them.

To conclude, if we fail to address the concerns of people and groups, within the EU region we won’t be able to revive democracy, which is currently struggling. The emergence of the AfD marks an event in European political history. Initially opposing EU policies it has evolved into an immigration party with nationalist sentiments. Today it stands as one of Germany’s growing parties challenging established norms and the dominance of pro-Europe and pro-immigration stances. Navigating the landscape of politics ahead requires caution to prevent exacerbating issues. The EU and Europe as a whole are at a juncture; hence it’s crucial to avoid missteps, by clearly articulating positions and maintaining transparency.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own.


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Simon Hutagalung

Simon Hutagalung is a retired diplomat from the Indonesian Foreign Ministry and received his master's degree in political science and comparative politics from the City University of New York. The opinions expressed in his articles are his own.

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