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The politics of affect

Perspectives on the rise of the far-right and right-wing populism in the West

Sindre Bangstad, Bjørn Enge Bertelsen and Heiko Henkel

This article is based on the transcript of a roundtable on the rise of the far-right and right-wing populism held at the AAA Annual Meeting in 2017. The contributors explore this rise in the context of the role of affect in politics, rising socio-economic inequalities, racism and neoliberalism, and with reference to their own ethnographic research on these phenomena in Germany, Poland, Italy, France, the UK and Hungary.

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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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Mirko M. Hall

The musical aesthetics of neofolk has held a significant place within Germany’s dark alternative scene since the early 1980s. With its keen interest in paganism, dark romanticism, and völkisch mysticism, this genre is often associated with right-wing ideologies. Neofolk has been accused by some of creating acceptable social spaces for fascist cultural ideals, and by others for harnessing contradictory right-wing messages as new modes of aesthetic creativity and provocation. This article explores the continued popularity of the English band, Death in June, in Germany and seeks to problematize critics’ attempts to unequivocally characterize the band and genre as nostalgia- laden hipster fascism.

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A New Blue-collar Force

The Alternative for Germany and the Working Class

Philipp Adorf

Within a mere five years, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) has established itself in the German party system. During the same period, however, it has undergone a significant ideological transformation as well. Initially regarded as a direct competitor to the small-government Free Democrats, the AfD has since adopted the tried-and-tested electoral approach of other rightwing populist actors by embracing welfare chauvinist positions, linking the survival of the welfare state to that of the nation state. In doing so it has made substantial inroads into the blue-collar electorate, in some German states even overtaking the Social Democrats as the preferred choice of the working class.

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Frank Decker

The recent federal elections refuted a number of established hypotheses on the development of the German party system and contradicted the electoral strategies of nearly all parties involved. The outcome was neither a further fragmentation of the parliamentary landscape nor the unavoidable establishment of a grand coalition. On the contrary, in most cases, the respective parties failed as a result of their own mistakes in selecting adequate campaign issues, strategies and/or candidates. Aside from party-specific questions, such as the trajectories of both the AfD and the FDP, the future of the German party system seems largely dependent on the relationships between the three left-of-center parties at the federal level.

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Frank Decker

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.

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Coalition Politics in Crisis?

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.

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Leading through a Decade of Crisis—Not Bad, After All

Germany’s Leadership Demand and Followership Inclusion, 2008-2018

Valerio A. Bruno and Giacomo Finzi

The decade following the great economic and financial crisis of 2008 saw the European Union demanding regional leadership. The EU has also suffered a number of other existential crises, such as the ongoing refugee crisis, the Ukraine-Russia military confrontation, the revival of nationalism and radical right-wing populism, alongside the “trade war” between the United States and the EU. The article develops a novel theoretical framework structuring leadership as a peculiar typology of power, characterized by the capacity of both including “followership” countries’ interests and providing crisis management. Our central argument is that Germany responded strategically to leadership demand in Europe through a positive power role, exhibiting the inclusion of followership and multilateral leadership rather than hegemonic, together with crisis management skills based on solid influence over regional outcomes. Conclusions are drawn from five key case studies drawn from different policy areas.

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Hilary Silver and et al.

Rafaela Dancygier, Dilemmas of Inclusion: Muslims in European Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017) Reviewed by Hilary Silver, Sociology, George Washington University Thomas Großbölting, Losing Heaven: Religion in Germany since 1945; translated by Alex Skinner (New York: Berghahn Books, 2017. Reviewed by Jeffrey Luppes, World Languages, Indiana University South Bend Hans Vorländer, Maik Herold, and Steven Schäller, PEGIDA and New Right-Wing Populism In Germany (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018) Reviewed by Joyce Mushaben, Political Science, University of Missouri St. Louis Kara L. Ritzheimer, “Trash,” Censorship, and National Identity in Early Twentieth-Century Germany (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016) Reviewed by Ambika Natarajan, History, Philosophy, and Religion, Oregon State University Anna Saunders, Memorializing the GDR: Monuments and Memory After 1989 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2018) Reviewed by Jeffrey Luppes, World Languages, Indiana University South Bend Desmond Dinan, Neill Nugent and William E. Paterson, eds., The European Union in Crisis (London: Palgrave, 2017) Reviewed by Helge F. Jani, Hamburg, Germany Noah Benezra Strote, Lions and Lambs: Conflict in Weimar and the Creation of Post-Nazi Germany (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017). Reviewed by Darren O’Byrne, History, University of Cambridge Chunjie Zhang, Transculturality and German Discourse in the Age of European Colonialism (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2017) Reviewed by Christopher Thomas Goodwin, History, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Marcel Fratzscher, The Germany Illusion: Between Economic Euphoria and Despair (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018). Reviewed by Stephen J. Silvia, International Relations, American University