Next to the Alternative for Germany (AfD)'s nationalism and anti-immigrant attitudes, natalism and support for traditional gender roles are key components of the party's far right categorization. Women are not absent from parties like the AfD, though they support them at lower rates than men and at lower rates than they support other parties. In light of women's lower presence in far-right parties, how do women officeholders in the AfD explain their party affiliation, and how do their explanations differ from men's? An answer is discernible at the nexus between AfD officeholders’ publicly available political backgrounds and the accounts that they offer for joining the party, termed “origin stories.” Empirically, this article uses an original dataset of political biographical details for all the AfD's state and federal legislators elected between 2013 and late 2019. This dataset shows that AfD women at the state level are less likely than their men counterparts to have been affiliated with a political party, and they are less likely to have been politically active, prior to their participation in the AfD. Regardless of the facts of their backgrounds, however, women more than men explain their support of the AfD as a choice to enter into politics, and men more than women explain their support of the AfD as a choice to leave another party. The article argues that these gendered origin stories can be contextualized within the party's masculinist, natalist, and nationalist values.
Christina Xydias is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Bucknell University. She holds degrees in political science from Brown University (A.B., 2003) and The Ohio State University (Ph.D., 2010). She is a comparativist with a regional focus on Europe, and substantive foci that include gender and politics, elections, and legislatures. She has published on women in the Bundestag, the u.s. Congress, and the European Parliament, and on political protest in Greece and Iceland.