Although the AfD is not, strictly speaking, an “eastern” party, its distinct electoral results in the two halves of Germany—underscored once again in the 2021 federal election—are something of a puzzle. In order to explain how and why the AfD performs better in eastern Germany than in western Germany, we analyze district-level results for the AfD vote, employing multiple regression models in order to find correlates with constituency vote share. We conclude that the only socio-demographic variable common to both eastern and western German AfD voters is their level of education. Significantly, we find that eastern AfD voters are both older and more economically secure than western German voters for the AfD.
Michael A. Hansen is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Turku. He previously held a postdoctoral position at Lund University and was an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. His scholarly articles have appeared in numerous peer-reviewed journals, such as Party Politics, Political Behavior, Social Science Quarterly, Political Research Quarterly, Comparative European Politics, German Politics, Politics & Gender, German Politics and Society, and American Politics Research.
Jonathan Olsen is Professor and Chair of the Department of Social Sciences and Historical Studies at Texas Woman's University. He is the author or co-author of four books and numerous articles in such journals as Party Politics, German Politics, German Politics and Society, and Problems of Post Communism.