Germany’s Far-Right Ascends

Written by Anthony Constantini

What’s happening: The German AfD (Alternative für Deutschland), a far-right party by the standards of German politics, is surging in popularity. Its success is partially due to the ruling government’s green energy push — which would hurt the poorer East economically, where the AfD is strongest — but is more so due to the failure of successive governments to control migration.

  • The numbers: In the first half of 2023, Germany received 30 percent of all asylum claims in the European Union. In that same six-month period, the AfD rose from 4th place to 2nd, ahead of the left-wing Social Democrats, polls show.

  • Catch up: Most European countries got rocked by a migrant crisis around 2016 when Syrian refugees arrived in masses. Germany now hosts over a million refugees as of last year and received 300,000 asylum requests. After the war in Ukraine started, Germany took in over a million Ukrainians, around half of which don’t want to leave.

Why it matters: While the right has been rising to power throughout the EU, it has so far failed to gain a foothold in Germany, seen by many as the heart of Europe. This is mostly because all other parties have unofficially agreed to never work with them.

What’s next: Next year, Germany will have three regional elections, all in the East: in Brandenburg, Saxony, and Thuringia. The AfD is currently leading in all of them. With such a high level of support, it is questionable how much longer the establishment will be able to refuse working with the far-right.