Until 2013, right-wing populist or extremist parties were unable to establish themselves as a relevant political force in Germany. With the advent of the Alternative für Deutschland the party landscape has changed significantly. The window of opportunity for the newcomer was opened in 2013 by the Euro crisis. Combining euroskepticism with liberal economic policies and a conservative social issue agenda the AfD mainly capitalized on the neglecting of these matters by the liberal party and the Christian democrats. Controversy between the market-oriented moderate wing represented by party founder Bernd Lucke and the radical advocates of national populism led to the split off of the former in July 2015. Only with the refugee crisis did the AfD regain its electoral fortunes and obtained its best results thus far in the March 2016 state elections. Most probably, the party’s prospects will remain promising if one considers the voter’s side. The main risks lie in its own ranks, where ideological battles, personal struggles and the unresolved question of how to distance the party from right-wing extremism could further self-destruction.
The German Party System Before and After the 2017 Federal Election
Frank Decker and Philipp Adorf
The 2017 federal election illustrated the transformation of Germany’s political party system with six parties managing to enter the Bundestag. With the Christian and Social Democrats finally coming to an agreement almost half a year after the election, a grand coalition is set to govern for two consecutive terms for the very first time. The Alternative for Germany’s success also signaled the definite parliamentary establishment of right-wing populism in Germany. Multiparty coalitions that bridge ideological gulfs as the political fringe has grown in size are a new reality that must be accommodated. The 2017 election and subsequent arduous negotiations point towards a period of uncertainty and further upheaval for Germany’s party system.
Steven Weldon and Hermann Schmitt
Europe has been hit by a global financial crisis, and so has Germany. This crisis is associated, among European Union citizens, with the degree of support for European integration: those who are skeptical about the Euro and the debt crises in parts of the Eurozone tend also to be skeptical about European integration more generally. Our main question in this article is whether the pledges of political parties (as issued in their election manifestos) can add to our understanding of electoral choices in Germany. Relating German election results to the German data provided by the Comparative Manifesto Project MRG/CMP/MARPOR research tradition, our expectation is that political parties' European pledges have been irrelevant for the vote over half a century. Now that the European Union is rapidly moving in its postfunctional phase, the election of 2013 is expected to mark a turning point in that regard.