Right-Wing Populism and International Issues

A Case Study of the AfD

in German Politics and Society
Christiane Lemke Political Science, Leibniz University Hannover, Germany

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Most studies analyze right-wing populism in the framework of the nation state, while its impact on foreign policy is understudied. This article focuses on the German Alternative for Germany (AfD) to highlight its foreign policy stance. How is the AfD deliberately operating not only nationally but also on the European level? What are their aims and goals? How has the surge in right-wing populism impacted international issues and what does the rise of the right mean for Germany's role in Europe and in world politics? In the first part of the paper, I contextualize the rise and significance of right-wing populism in Germany within the framework of social and political theory. Second, I address the AfD's position to European affairs more specifically, including its stance in the European Parliament elections in 2019. Third, I highlight key topoi of the AfD’ s position regarding the eu, the United States and nato by drawing on critical discourse analysis. The analysis shows that the AfD is aiming to redefine Germany's foreign policy consensus based on the special responsibility paradigm that has characterized Germany's foreign policy after World War II. The party is not only nationalistic in outlook but moreover aiming to revise key paradigms of Germany's foreign and European policies.

Contributor Notes

Christiane Lemke is Professor of Political Science at Leibniz University Hannover. Her research interests are international and transatlantic relations, European integration and the Eruoepan Union. She has been a visiting scholar at a number of u.s. institutions including Harvard University and unc Chapel Hill. From 2010–2014, she held the Max Weber Chair at New York University. Her publications include Germany Today: Politics and Policies in a Changing World (Lanham, 2018) with Helga A. Welsh.

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