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Radical Right-Wing Populists in Parliament

Examining the Alternative for Germany in European Context

Lars Rensmann

Founded just five years ago, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) represents the biggest opposition party in the German parliament. This article addresses three questions in European comparative perspective: What is the nature of the AfD as a relevant political party in the Bundestag? What explains its rise and popularity? What is the party’s behavior and impact in parliament, and on German politics in general? Examining platforms, the article first identifies programmatic and ideological shifts that have turned the AfD from a single issue anti-Euro party into the first radical right-wing (populist) party in parliament since the Nazi era. Second, voter analyses suggest that the AfD’s political radicalization has not undermined but increased its appeal. Third, the robust electoral support for radical positions makes it likely that the party seeks to further deepen political conflicts. Behavior in parliament shows that the party follows its European counterparts’ polarizing strategic orientations, reinforcing the Europeanization of a nativist sociocultural “counter-revolution.”

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Lars Rensmann

Despite several breakthroughs that indicate radical right parties' significant electoral potential, they remain highly volatile players in both Poland and eastern Germany. This is puzzling because radical right competitors can benefit from favorable politico-cultural conditions shaped by postcommunist legacies. The electoral markets in Poland and the eastern German Länder show low levels of affective party identification and low levels of political trust in mainstream parties and government institutions. Most importantly, there is a sizeable, yet largely unrepresented segment of voters who share salient counter-cosmopolitan preferences. They point to a “silent counterrevolution“ against globalization and cosmopolitan value change that displays substantive affinities to radical right ideology. Offering a transborder regional comparison of the four most relevant radical right parties and their conditions for electoral mobilization in Poland and eastern Germany, this article argues that the radical right's crossnational volatility-and often underperformance-in elections is mainly caused by internal supply side factors. They range from organizational deficiencies, leadership issues, and internal feuds, to strategic failures and a lack of democratic responsiveness. In turn, the disequilibrium between counter-cosmopolitan demand and its political representation is likely to be reduced if radical right competitors become more effective agents of electoral mobilization-or new, better organized ones emerge.

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Michael Minkenberg

International comparisons of new radical right-wing parties usually

focus on differences in electoral fortunes, party organizations, and

leadership styles and conclude that Germany stands out as a special

case of successful marginalization of the new radical right. Explanations

for this German anomaly point at the combined effects of German

history and institutional arrangements of the Federal Republic

of Germany, of ideological dilemmas and strategic failures of the

various parties of the new radical right, and the efforts of the established

political parties to prevent the rise of new parties to the right

of them. By implication, this means that, whereas in countries like

France or Austria the new radical right plays a significant role in politics

to the point of changing the political systems themselves, the

German counterpart has a negligible impact and has little or no

effects on politics and polity.

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Bernhard Forchtner and Christoffer Kølvraa

This article inquires into how contemporary populist radical right parties relate to environmental issues of countryside and climate protection, by analyzing relevant discourses of the British National Party (BNP) and the Danish People's Party (DPP). It does so by looking at party materials along three dimensions: the aesthetic, the symbolic, and the material. The article discusses to what extent the parties' political stances on environmental issues are conditioned by deeper structures of nationalist ideology and the understandings of nature embedded therein. It illustrates a fundamental difference between the way nationalist actors engage in, on the one hand, the protection of nature as national countryside and landscape, epitomizing the nation's beauty, harmony and purity over which the people are sovereign. On the other hand, they deny or cast doubt on environmental risks located at a transnational level, such as those that relate to climate. The article argues that this apparent inconsistency is rooted in the ideological tenets of nationalism as the transnational undermines the nationalist ideal of sovereignty.

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David Art

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.

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Right of Center

Rearranging the Israeli Political Map

Samuel Peleg

Kookism by Gideon Aran

Messianic Religious Zionism Confronts Israeli Territorial Compromises by Motti Inbari

The Triumph of Israel's Radical Right by Ami Pedahzur

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Helena Rosenblatt A Virtue of Courageous Minds: Moderation in French Political Thought, 1748–1830 by Aurelian Craiutu

Michael S. Smith Les Batailles de l'impôt: Consentement et résistances de 1789 à nos jours by Nicolas Delalande

Daniel Lee Nazi Labour Camps in Paris: Austerlitz, Lévitan, Bassano, July 1943–August 1944 by Jean-Marc Dreyfus and Sarah Gensburger

Jessica Wardhaugh Defending National Treasures: French Art and Heritage under Vichy by Elizabeth Campbell Karlsgodt

Damien Mahiet Music and the Elusive Revolution: Cultural Politics and Political Culture in France, 1968–1981 by Eric Drott

Terri E. Givens Inside the Radical Right: The Development of Anti-Immigrant Parties in Western Europe by David Art

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Gavriel D. Rosenfeld, The World Hitler Never Made (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005)

Reviewed by Sheri Berman

Terri Givens, Voting Radical Right in Western Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005)

Reviewed by David Art

Steinar Stjernø, Solidarity in Europe: The History of an Idea (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004)

Reviewed by Aaron P. Boesenecker

David Monod, Settling Scores: German Music, Denazification, and the Americans, 1945-1953 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005).

Reviewed by Ivan Raykoff

Patricia Mazón and Reinhild Steingröver, eds., Not So Plain as Black and White: Afro-German Culture and History, 1890-2000 (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2005)

Reviewed by Karen M. Eng

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Beverly Weber

The perceived crisis triggered by the current refugee influx highlights the contradiction at the heart of human rights discourse. Modern humanity has been constructed as both European and as universal; the racialized “Other” against whom the “modern human” disturbs this construction by laying claim to human rights from the very heart of Europe. The sexualized violence reported in Cologne on New Year’s Eve fed into racialized fears of refugees and immigrants promoted by groups on the radical right, even as racialized fears returned to mainstream discourses. Critical responses to the racism of the radical right unfortunately also participate in racialized discourses by resorting to “Europe” or “European values.” This analysis suggests the need to consider Europe as a field of power, one in which the contestation over what Europe is or should be results in concrete, racialized disparities in access to social mobility, education, or public agency. A project for racial, gender and economic justice requires the thinking of Europe as an ongoing project of world-making. The call to revisit or reclaim “European” values cannot succeed here. Nor can a response to the new right (or the newly normalized racism of the center) allow the new right to determine the parameters of debates about possibilities for the future.

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Two of the Same Kind?

The Rise of the AfD and its Implications for the CDU/CSU

Matthias Dilling

In 2017, the AfD became the first party explicitly positioned to the right of the CDU/CSU to enter the Bundestag since 1957. As the AfD was founded by former CDU members and rose against the backdrop of Merkel’s European and refugee policies, the AfD may appear primarily to threaten the CDU/CSU. I argue that this view is overly simplistic. Analyzing the AfD’s platform, survey data, and factionalism, I find: (1) while the AfD started as a conservative challenger to the Christian Democrats, it moved away from this platform toward becoming a populist radical right party; (2) this transformation is reflected in its vote base, which includes characteristics associated with social conservatism but also encompasses nativist, populist, and even leftwing elements; (3) the AfD has so far been unable to integrate these different positions and stop forces pushing it away from being an option for discontented Christian Democrats.