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.
German politicians, journalists, and analysts are predicting that the DVU's and the NPD's tenure in state parliaments will be brief. Referring to the NPD, Wolfgang Bosbach of the CDU claimed that the party would quickly lose its appeal because its politicians were "generally lazy, not very intelligent and therefore ineffective in parliament." Similar opinions have been voiced about the DVU. In this article, I argue that, while the DVU is likely to remain a marginal player in German politics, the NPD's electoral breakthrough represents a major new development. Over the last decade, the NPD has evolved into a highly organized social movement in eastern Germany. The fact that it can now mobilize portions of the eastern electorate strongly suggests that it has become a political force as well.