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.