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A Post-Truth Campaign?

The Alternative for Germany in the 2019 European Parliament Elections

Maximilian Conrad

Abstract

This article analyzes the Alternative for Germany's campaign for the 2019 European Parliament elections against the backdrop of the phenomenon of “post-truth politics.” Post-truth politics is operationalized here as the strategic deployment of misleading frames and argumentative as well as evaluative styles. This has become a standard tool in the repertoire of populist actors, and in German politics, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) is a case in point. Despite the party's thematic shift from issues of European integration to migration and multiculturalism, the European Union (eu) still represents an important point of reference in the party's rhetoric. Empirically, this article addresses the importance of post-truth politics in the AfD's campaign by examining the frames and evaluative styles employed by the party and its leading candidates in evoking negative images of the eu, considering in particular social and other digital media as important venues for such processes.

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Understanding Germany’s Short-lived “Culture of Welcome”

Images of Refugees in Three Leading German Quality Newspapers

Maximilian Conrad and Hugrún Aðalsteinsdóttir

Abstract

The German government’s response to the refugee crisis in the late summer and autumn of 2015 has puzzled observers. Despite initially positive reactions to Angela Merkel’s policy, her position has weakened domestically, contributing to the sudden rise of the Alternative for Germany, but also alienated a number of Germany’s European partners. While the German government’s approach may be difficult to explain from a purely rationalist perspective, this article highlights the role of ideational factors, in particular Germany’s self-understanding as an international actor and a sense of moral obligation drawn from the continued relevance of Germany’s twentieth-century history. We demonstrate that the long shadow of the crimes committed under National Socialism played a key role in shaping German public discourse on the refugee crisis—underlined by a frame analysis of the images of refugees in three leading German daily newspapers between August 2015 and March 2016. Although the inflow of refugees was also framed as a challenge and a potential security risk, the material emphasizes Germany’s moral obligation to provide shelter to those fleeing from war and persecution.