The Alternative for Germany (AfD) made history by winning 12.6 percent of the vote and capturing ninety-four seats in the Bundestag in the federal elections of 2017. This article asks whether the AfD’s rise threatens to undermine the strategy of containment that contributed to the demise of previous incarnations of the radical right. It argues that the current strength of the AfD is a direct result of Angela Merkel’s decisions to rescue the Eurozone and to welcome over one million refugees since the fall of 2015. While the AfD is still likely to suffer a collapse similar to other radical right parties, its consolidation or strengthening would have major consequences for Germany and for Europe.
David Art is Professor of Political Science at Tufts University. His field is comparative politics, with a regional focus on Europe and research interests that include extremist political parties and movements, the politics of history and memory, and comparative historical analysis in the social sciences. He is the author of Inside the Radical Right: The Development of Anti-Immigrant Parties in Western Europe (New York, 2011) and The Politics of the Nazi Past in Germany and Austria (New York, 2006). His articles have appeared in Comparative Politics, German Politics and Society, Party Politics, Political Science Quarterly, and West European Politics. Art was Co-Convenor of the European Consortium for Political Research’s (ECPR) Standing Group on Extremism and Democracy from 2006–2012. E-mail: email@example.com