Alternative for Germany

Alternative for Germany (German: Alternative für Deutschland, AfD; German pronunciation: [aːʔɛfˈdeː] (About this soundlisten)) is a right-wing populist[2] political party in Germany.[5] A right-wing party,[6][7] it is on the radical right or far right of the political spectrum,[3] and is best known for its opposition to the European Union[8] and immigration to Germany.[9]

Alternative for Germany
Alternative für Deutschland
Deputy Co-Leaders
Parliamentary leaders
Honorary ChairmanAlexander Gauland
Founded6 February 2013; 8 years ago (2013-02-06)
HeadquartersSchillstraße 9 10785 Berlin
Youth wingYoung Alternative for Germany
Membership (2021)Decrease 30,776[1]
IdeologyRight-wing populism[2]
National conservatism
Political positionFar-right[3][a]
European Parliament group
  • ECR (2014–2016)
  • EFDD (2016–2019)
  • ID (since 2019)
Colours  Light blue
83 / 736
0 / 69
State Parliaments
261 / 1,889
European Parliament
11 / 96

^ a: A right-wing party, the AfD is considered part of the radical right, a subset of the far right that does not oppose democracy.[4]

Established in April 2013, the AfD narrowly missed the 5% electoral threshold to sit in the Bundestag during the 2013 German federal election. In 2014, the party won seven seats in the 2014 European Parliament election in Germany as a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists. After securing representation in 14 of the 16 German state parliaments by October 2017, the AfD became the third-largest party in Germany after winning 94 seats in the 2017 German federal election, also becoming the biggest opposition party and the first time they had been represented there. The party is chaired by Jörg Meuthen and Tino Chrupalla; its lead candidates in the 2017 federal election were AfD Co-Vice Chairman Alexander Gauland and Alice Weidel, who serves as the party group leader in the Bundestag.

The AfD was founded by Bernd Lucke, Alexander Gauland, and former members of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) to oppose the policies of the Eurozone. The party presented itself as an economic liberal,[10] soft Eurosceptic, and centre-right to right-wing, conservative movement in its early years.[11][12][13] It subsequently expanded its policies under successive leadership to include opposition to immigration,[14][15] Islam,[16] the European Union,[17] and has gradually moved to the far right since its founding.[18] After 2015, the AfD has been often described as an anti-Islam,[19][20][21] anti-immigration,[22] German nationalist,[23][24][25] national-conservative,[26][27][28] and hard Eurosceptic party.[29][30] Since 2017, the AfD has been increasingly open to working with far-right extremist groups such as Pegida.[31][32][33] Factions of the AfD have racist,[34][35] Islamophobic,[36][37][38] antisemitic,[39][40] and xenophobic[41][42][43] tendencies with links to neo-Nazism[44][40] and the Identitarian movement.[45][46] Party leaders have denied accusations of racism;[18] Lucke, one of its founders, has left the party in July 2015[21] due to its xenophobia.[47]

In March 2021, most of Germany's major media outlets reported that the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) had placed the AfD under surveillance as a suspected extremist group.[48][49] Shortly after this announcement, surveillance of AfD was blocked by the courts to give equal opportunities among political parties in a key election year.[50][51][52]



In September 2012, Alexander Gauland, Bernd Lucke, and journalist Konrad Adam founded the political group Electoral Alternative 2013 (German: Wahlalternative 2013) in Bad Nauheim, to oppose German federal policies concerning the eurozone crisis, and to confront German-supported bailouts for poorer southern European countries.[53]

Their manifesto was endorsed by several economists, journalists, and business leaders, and stated that the eurozone had proven to be "unsuitable" as a currency area and that southern European states were "sinking into poverty under the competitive pressure of the euro".[54]

"Wahlalternative 2013" logo

Some candidates of what would become the AfD sought election in Lower Saxony as part of the Electoral Alternative 2013 in alliance with the Free Voters, an association participating in local elections without specific federal or foreign policies, and received 1% of the vote.[54][55] In February 2013 the group decided to found a new party to compete in the 2013 federal elections. The Free Voters leadership declined to join forces, according to a leaked email from Bernd Lucke.[56] Advocating the abolition of the euro, Alternative for Germany (AfD) took a more radical stance than the Free Voters.[57] Likewise, the Pirate Party of Germany opposed any coalition with the AfD at their 2013 spring convention.[58]

Konrad Adam (left), Frauke Petry, and Bernd Lucke during the first AfD convention on 14 April 2013 in Berlin

The AfD's initial supporters were the same prominent economists, business leaders, and journalists who had supported the Electoral Alternative 2013, including former members of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who had previously challenged the constitutionality of the German government's eurozone policies at the Federal Constitutional Court.[59][60] However, the AfD did not regard itself as a splinter party from the CDU as its early membership also contained a former state leader from the Free Democratic Party and members of the Federation of Independent Voters - a pressure group of independents and small business owners.[61]

Second vote share percentage for AfD in the 2013 federal election in Germany, final results

On 14 April 2013, the AfD announced its presence to the wider public when it held its first convention in Berlin, elected the party leadership, and adopted a party platform. Bernd Lucke,[62] entrepreneur Frauke Petry and Konrad Adam were elected as speakers.[63] The AfD federal board also chose three deputy speakers: Alexander Gauland, Roland Klaus, and Patricia Casale. The party elected treasurer Norbert Stenzel and the three assessors Irina Smirnova, Beatrix Diefenbach, and Wolf-Joachim Schünemann. The economist Joachim Starbatty, along with Jörn Kruse, Helga Luckenbach, Dirk Meyer, and Roland Vaubel, were elected to the party's scientific advisory board. Between 31 March and 12 May 2013, the AfD founded affiliates in all 16 German states in order to participate in the federal elections. On 15 June 2013, the Young Alternative for Germany was founded in Darmstadt as the AfD's youth organisation.[64] In April 2013, during David Cameron's visit to Germany, the British Conservative Party was reported to have contacted both AfD and the Free Voters to discuss possible cooperation, supported by the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group of the European Parliament.[65] In June 2013, Bernd Lucke gave a question and answer session organised by the Conservative Party-allied Bruges Group think tank in Portcullis House, London.[66] In a detailed report in the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in April 2013, the paper's Berlin-based political correspondent Majid Sattar revealed that the SPD and CDU had conducted opposition research to blunt the growth and attraction of the AfD.[67]

2013 federal electionEdit

On 22 September 2013, the AfD won 4.7% of the votes in the 2013 federal election, just missing the 5% barrier to enter the Bundestag. The party won about 2 million party list votes and 810,000 constituency votes, which was 1.9% of the total of these votes cast across Germany.[68]

2013 state electionsEdit

The AfD did not participate in the 2013 Bavaria state election held on 15 September 2013. The AfD gained its first representation in the state parliament of Hesse with the defection of Jochen Paulus from the Free Democratic Party (FDP) to the AfD in early May 2013,[69]. He was not re-elected and left office in January 2014.[70] In the 2013 Hesse state election held on 22 September 2013, the same day as the 2013 federal election, the AfD failed to gain representation in the parliament with 4.0% of the vote.[citation needed]

2014 European Parliament electionEdit

Former "Courage [to stand up] for the truth! The euro is dividing Europe!" tagline on election placard 2013

In early 2014, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany ruled the proposed 3% vote hurdle for representation in the European elections unconstitutional, and the 2014 European Parliament election became the first run in Germany without a barrier for representation.[71]

The AfD held a party conference on 25 January 2014 at Frankenstolz Arena, Aschaffenburg, northwest Bavaria. The conference chose the slogan Mut zu Deutschland ("Courage [to stand up] for Germany") to replace the former slogan Mut zur Wahrheit (lit. "Courage [to speak] the truth" or, more succinctly, "Telling it as it is"),[72] which prompted disagreement among the federal board that the party could be seen as too anti-European. Eventually a compromise was reached by using the slogan "MUT ZU D*EU*TSCHLAND", with the "EU" in "DEUTSCHLAND" encircled by the 12 stars of the European flag.[73] The conference elected the top six candidates for the European elections on 26 January 2014 and met again the following weekend to choose the remaining euro candidates.[72][73][74] Candidates from 7th–28th place on the party list were selected in Berlin on 1 February.[75] Party chairman Bernd Lucke was elected as lead candidate.

In February 2014, AfD officials said they had discussed alliances with Britain's anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP), which Bernd Lucke and the federal board of AfD opposed, and also with the ECR group, to which the British Conservative Party belongs.[76] In April 2014 Hans-Olaf Henkel, AfD's second candidate on the European election list, ruled out forming a group with UKIP after the 2014 European election.[77] stating that he saw the British Conservatives as the preferred partner in the European Parliament.[77] On 10 May 2014 Bernd Lucke had been in talks with the Czech and Polish member parties of ECR group.[78]

In the 25 May 2014 European election, the AfD came in fifth place in Germany, with 7.1% of the national vote (2,065,162 votes), and seven members of the EU parliament.[79] On 12 June 2014 it was announced that the AfD had been accepted into the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European Parliament.[80] The official vote result was not released to the public, but figures of 29 votes for and 26 against were reported by the membership.[80] The inclusion of the AfD in the ECR group was said to have caused mild tensions between Angela Merkel and David Cameron.[81]

2014 state electionsEdit

On 31 August 2014, the AfD scored 9.7% of the vote in the Saxony state election,[82] winning 14 seats in the Landtag of Saxony.[83] and on 14 September 2014 they obtained 10.6% of the vote in the Thuringian and 12.2% in the Brandenburg state election, winning 11 seats in both state parliaments.[84]

2015 state electionsEdit

On 15 February 2015 AfD won 6.1% of the vote in the 2015 Hamburg state election, gaining the mandate for eight seats in the Hamburg Parliament,[85] winning their first seats in a western German state.

On 10 May the AfD secured in the 5.5% of the vote in the 2015 Bremen state election gaining representation in their fifth state parliament on a 50% turnout.[86]

Petry assumes leadership, Lucke quitsEdit

After months of factional infighting and a cancelled party gathering in June 2015, on 4 July 2015 Frauke Petry was elected as the de facto principal speaker of the party with 60% of the member votes ahead of Bernd Lucke at a party congress in Essen.[87] Petry was a member of the national-conservative faction of the AfD.[88] Her leadership was widely seen as heralding a shift of the party to the right, to focus more on issues such as migration, Islam and strengthening ties to Russia,[citation needed] a shift which was claimed by Lucke as turning the party into a "Pegida party".[89] In the following week, five MEPs exited the party on 7 July, the only remaining MEPs being Beatrix von Storch and Marcus Pretzell[90] and on 8 July 2015, Lucke announced that he was resigning from the AfD, citing the rise of xenophobic and pro-Russian sentiments in the party.[91] At a meeting of members of the Wake-up call (Weckruf 2015) group on 19 July 2015, the founder of the AfD Bernd Lucke and former AfD members announced they would form a new party, the Alliance for Progress and Renewal (ALFA), under the founding principles of the AfD.[92]

Co-operation with FPÖ and exclusion from ECR groupEdit

In February 2016, the AfD announced a cooperation pact with the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ).[93] On 8 March 2016, the bureau of the ECR Group began motions to exclude the AfD from their group due to its links with the far-right FPÖ,[94] inviting the two remaining AfD MEPs to leave the group by 31 March, with a motion of exclusion to be tabled on 12 April if they refuse to leave voluntarily.[95] While MEP Beatrix von Storch left the ECR group on 8 April to join the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group,[96][97] Marcus Pretzell let himself be expelled on 12 April 2016.[98]

2016 state electionsEdit

With the migrant debate remaining the dominant national issue, on 13 March 2016 elections held in the three states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt saw the AfD receiving double-digit percentages of the vote in all three states.[99][100] In the 2016 Saxony-Anhalt state election, the AfD reached second place in the Landtag, receiving 24.2% of the vote. In the 2016 Baden-Württemberg state election, the AfD achieved third place, with 15.1% of the vote. In the 2016 Rhineland-Palatinate state election, the AfD again reached third place, with 12.6% of the vote. In Angela Merkel's home state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, her CDU was beaten into third place following a strong showing of the AfD, who contested at state level for the first time, to claim the second-highest polling with 20.8% of the vote in the 2016 Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state election.[101] However, AfD voter support in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania appears to have come from both left- and right-wing parties, with support for the SPD down 4.9%, CDU down 4.1%, The Left down 5.2%, Alliance '90/The Greens down 3.9%, and support for the National Democratic Party of Germany halved, dropping 3.0%. Rising support for the AfD meant that The Greens and the NDP failed to reach the 5% threshold to qualify for seats in the Landtag of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and consequently lost their seats. In the 2016 Berlin state election, which the AfD also contested for the first time,[citation needed] they achieved a vote of 14.2%, making them the fifth largest party represented in the state assembly. Their vote seems to have come equally from the SPD and CDU, whose votes declined 6.7% and 5.7% respectively.[102]

2016 party congressEdit

At the party congress held on 30 April to 1 May 2016, the AfD adopted a policy platform based upon opposition to Islam, calling for the ban of Islamic symbols including burkhas, minarets and the call to prayer, using the slogan "Islam is not a part of Germany".[103][104][105][106]

2017 federal electionEdit

Second vote share percentage for AfD in the 2017 federal election in Germany, final results
National party convention in Cologne in April 2017

At the party conference in April 2017, Frauke Petry announced that she would not run as the party's main candidate for the 2017 federal election. This announcement grew out of internal power struggle as the party's support had fallen in polls from 15% in the summer of 2016 to 7% just before the conference. Björn Höcke from the far-right wing of the party and Petry were attempting to push each other out of the party. Petry's decision was partly seen as a step to avoid a vote at the conference on the issue of her standing.[107] The party chose Alexander Gauland, a stark conservative who worked as an editor and was a former member of the CDU,[108] to lead the party in the elections. Gauland supported the retention of Höcke's party membership. Alice Weidel, who is perceived as more moderate and neoliberal, was elected as his running mate.[109] The party approved a platform that, according to The Wall Street Journal: "urges Germany to close its borders to asylum applicants, end sanctions on Russia and to leave the EU if Berlin fails to retrieve national sovereignty from Brussels, as well as to amend the country's constitution to allow people born to non-German parents to have their German citizenship revoked if they commit serious crimes.[109]

In the 2017 federal election, the AfD won 12.6% of the vote and received 94 seats; this was the first time it had won seats in the Bundestag.[110][111] It won three constituency seats, which would have been enough to qualify for proportionally-elected seats in any event. Under a long-standing law intended to benefit regional parties, any party that wins at least three constituency seats qualifies for its share of proportionally-elected seats, regardless of vote share.

Split-off partiesEdit

At a press conference held by AfD the day after the 2017 election, Frauke Petry said that she would participate in the Bundestag as an independent; she said she did this because extremist statements by some members made it impossible for AfD to function as a constructive opposition, and to make clear to voters that there is internal dissent in the AfD. She also said that she would be leaving the party at some future date.[112][113] Petry formed the Blue Party in September 2017. Four members of the AfD in the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania legislature, including Bernhard Wild, also left the AfD to form their own group,[112] which folded in December 2018. On 6 November 2019, Petry announced that the Blue Party would dissolve by the end of the year [114]

In 2018, André Poggenburg, the AfD's regional leader of the eastern Saxony-Anhalt state, resigned his post after making racist remarks concerning Turks and immigrants with dual citizenship. Poggenburg gave as reasons for his resignation a shift to the left in the AfD when it jettisoned from extremists in order to appear more moderate to voters. In 2019, Poggenburg started a new far-right party, Aufbruch deutscher Patrioten – Mitteldeutschland ("Dawn of German Patriots", AdP), which planned to field candidates in state elections in Saxony, Thuringia, and Brandenburg in Fall 2019. In August 2019, party founder Poggenburg left the AdP because his internal call to support the AfD in the upcoming state elections of fall 2019 was denied.[115]

2021 federal electionEdit

Ahead of the 2021 federal election, the AfD campaigned with the slogan Germany. But Normal and took a position of opposing further lockdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The AfD saw a dip in national vote share by getting 10.3% of the vote (compared to 12.6% in 2017). However, the party emerged as the largest in the states of Saxony and Thuringia, and saw a strong performance in the former GDR Eastern side of Germany.[116] The party's results drew a mixed analysis from AfD members and political commentators, the latter of whom attributed the slight decline to visible infighting whereas AfD candidates such as Alice Weidel blamed media bias against the party. Politics professor Kai Arzheimer argued the result "wasn’t any appreciable increase, but it wasn’t a disaster for them.” Arzheimer also posited that the result demonstrated that the AfD had firmly established itself in German national politics but had not reached beyond its core support.[117] The AfD's top candidates Tino Chrupalla and Alice Weidel praised the result as "solid" while party spokesman Jörg Meuthen argued that the party should reevaluate the result and aim on "sending strong signals towards towards the center" to win back new voters.[118]

Ideology and policiesEdit

AfD's Islamophobic poster in Schleswig-Holstein, 3 May 2018. The poster says: "Islam does not belong to Germany. The woman's freedom is not negotiable!"

The AfD is right wing on both socioeconomic and sociocultural terms.[119] It was founded as a liberal conservative[120] party of the middle class with a tendency toward soft Euroscepticism,[121] being generally supportive of Germany's membership in the European Union but critical of further European integration, the existence of the euro currency and the bailouts by the Eurozone for countries such as Greece.[122] At that time, the party already advocated support for Swiss-style semi-direct democracy, dissolution of the Eurozone, opposition to immigration, and opposed same-sex marriage.[123][124] During this period, the party espoused economic liberal,[10] ordoliberal,[125] and national liberal policy stances.[126] Former party MEP Hans-Olaf Henkel likened the AfD's early platform to the British Conservative Party rather than hard Eurosceptic or nationalist parties such as the UK Independence Party or the French National Front. The AfD was also compared to the US Tea Party Movement by some media outlets due to its campaigns against Eurozone bailouts, although the AfD's early leadership disputed this and claimed it was not looking to attract right-wing extremists into the party.[127]

In 2015, more moderate members left AfD to found a new party, the Alliance for Progress and Renewal, which was renamed the Liberal Conservative Reformers in November 2016.[128] at this point the AfD was performing poorly in opinion polls, polling at around 3 percent. However, later in 2015 an influx of refugees boosted their support, with the party turning to focus on opposing gender equality, refugees and in particular Muslims and Muslim immigration.[129][130][124]

The AfD underwent a further shift to the right after Petry left the party in 2017 and formed The Blue Party, following the AfD's adoption of more hardline Islamophobic, anti-immigration positions and historical revisionist remarks by leading AfD figures.[131][132][133] The party now resembles other populist radical right parties in Europe but is somewhat unusual because it maintains visible ties to even more extreme groups.[134]

In March 2020, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (German: Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz) classified the far-right nationalistic faction known as Der Flügel as "a right-wing extremist endeavor against the free democratic basic order" and as "not compatible with the Basic Law" and therefore placed it under intelligence surveillance.[135][136][137] In early March 2021, most of Germany's major media outlets reported that the Bundesverfassungsschutz had placed the whole AfD under surveillance as a "suspected extremist group". In response to claims from AfD members that the move was intended to damage the party's chances in the upcoming federal election, the agency stated it will not make public announcements regarding investigations into the AfD or its candidates for the foreseeable future.[48][49]

Political commentators and analysts have described the party as containing two prominent factions: subscribers to more moderate right-wing and national-conservative policies, such as parliamentarians Jörg Meuthen, Alice Weidel and Beatrix von Storch, and the more hardline identitarian Der Flügel wing, comprising figures at state level such as Thuringia state leader Björn Höcke.[138][139]

Economic policiesEdit

The AfD is an economic liberal party.[10][140] Despite the 2015 split of economic liberals, the AfD can still be broadly characterized as neoliberal on economic terms, emphasizing deregulation and much limited state intervention. Attempts of some factions to emphasize small and medium-sized enterprises and advocate protectionism over free trade did not have much success or changes in party policies.[119]

German nationalismEdit

Over time, a focus on German nationalism, on reclaiming Germany's sovereignty and national pride, especially in repudiation of Germany's culture of shame with regard to its Nazi past, became more central in AfD's ideology and a central plank in its populist appeals.[23][24][25] Petry, who led the moderate wing of the party, said that Germany should reclaim völkisch from its Nazi connotations,[141] while Björn Höcke, who is an example of the more right-wing or national conservative ideology, regularly speaks of the Vaterland ("father land") and Volk ("nation" or "people", but with a strong ethnic or racial connotation).[23]

In January 2017, Höcke in a speech stated, in reference to the Berlin Holocaust Memorial: "Germans are the only people in the world who plant a monument of shame in the heart of the capital" and criticized this "laughable policy of coming to terms with the past".[142][143] Höcke continued that Germany should make a "180 degree" turn with regard to its sense of national pride.[23]

Immigration and multiculturalismEdit

The party describes German national identity as under threat both from European integration and from the presence and accommodation of immigrants and refugees within Germany.[24][25]

Former leader Petry said in March 2016: "I'm not against immigration, but (...) the economic and social consequences of migration on both home and host countries are equally momentous (...) The immigration of so many Muslims will change our culture. If this change is desired, it must be the product of a democratic decision supported by a broad majority. But Ms. Merkel simply opened the borders and invited everybody in, without consulting the parliament or the people."[25]

In its program, the party wants to end what it describes as mass immigration and focus on taking in small numbers of skilled immigrants who are expected to integrate into society and speak German. It also encourages German nationals to have more children, as opposed to trying to boost the German population through foreign migration. The AfD also wants to review EU freedom of movement rules and states that immigrants must be employed and contribute to social security through paying taxes for at least four years before being allowed to receive state benefits. The AfD also calls for mass deportation of foreign born criminals with multiple citizenship or permanent residency. The AfD also describes the Geneva Convention on Refugees as "outdated" in the present day, calls for stricter vetting of refugees and believes the German government should invest in special economic and safe zones in third world nations as opposed to taking in large numbers of asylum seekers without background checks.[144]

The AfD is critical of multiculturalism in Germany, stating that "the concept of a multi-cultural society has failed." The party also favours banning the burqa, the Islamic call to prayer in public areas and the construction of new minarets, ending foreign funding of mosques and putting imams through a state vetting procedure.[138]

Homosexuality and feminismEdit

According to its interim electoral manifesto, the party is against same-sex marriage and favours civil unions.[145] The left-leaning newspaper Die Tageszeitung described the group as advocating "old gender roles".[146] Wolfgang Gedeon, an elected AfD representative, has included feminism, along with "sexualism" and "migrationism", in an ideology he calls "green communism" that he opposes, and argues for family values as part of German identity.[147] As AfD has campaigned for traditional roles for women, it has aligned itself with groups opposed to modern feminism.[148] The youth wing of the party has used social media to campaign against aspects of modern feminism, with the support of party leadership.[149] One prominent leader in the party, Alice Weidel is a lesbian and is in a civil union with a female Sri Lankan-born Swiss film producer. Weidel has two adopted children with her partner.[150][151][152]


The party has a platform of climate change denial.[145][153] AfD opposes energy transformation policies (Energiewende) they want to scrap the German Renewable Energy Act, German Energy Saving Regulations and the German Renewable Energy Heat Act. They also want to end bioenergy subsidies and restrict "uncontrolled expansion of wind energy".[145] The AfD wants to reinstate Germany's nuclear plants, arguing that closures between 2002 and 2011 were "economically damaging and not objectively justified". The party argues that the government should "allow a lifetime extension of still operating nuclear power plants on a transitional basis".[145]


AfD wants a reinstatement of conscription, starting for men at the age of 18.[154][145]

Foreign policyEdit

The party is pro-NATO, pro-USA and strongly pro-Israel,[155][14][156] but is significantly divided on whether to support Russia, and has opposed sanctions on Russia supported by NATO and the United States.[157] It is also divided on free-trade agreements.[157] In March 2019, party leader Alexander Gauland said in an interview with the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda that they consider the War in Donbas to be a Ukrainian internal matter, and that Germany should not get involved in the internal affairs of Ukraine or Russia. He also said the AfD is against Western sanctions imposed on Russia.[158]

AfD initially held a position of soft Euroscepticism by opposing the euro currency and Eurozone bailouts (which the party saw as undermining European integration) but was otherwise supportive of German membership of the European Union.[121] Since 2015, the party has shifted to a more purely Eurosceptic and nationalist position against the EU. AfD now calls for an end to German Eurozone membership, withdrawal from the common European asylum and security policy, significant reform of the EU and a repatriation of powers back from Brussels with some party members endorsing a complete exit from the European Union if these aims are not achievable.[159][160][161][162] During the 2021 party conference in Dresden, a majority of AfD members voted to include more hardline policies against the European Union including German withdrawal from the block in the party's manifesto ahead of the 2021 German federal election.[163][164][165]

AfD supported the decision of US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital as stated by MdB Petr Bystron.[155]


Membership numbers
2013 17,687[166]
2014 20,728[166]
2015 16,385[166]
2016 26,409[166]
2017 29,000[167]
2018 33,500[168]
2019 35,100[169]
2020 32,000[170]

Party financesEdit

Because the 2013 federal election was the first attempt to join by the party, the AfD had not received any federal funds in the run-up to it,[171] but after receiving 2 million votes it crossed the threshold for party funding and was expected to receive an estimated 1.3 to 1.5 million Euros per year of state subsidies.[172] After joining the parliament after the election of 2017 with more than 90 representatives, the party received more than 70 million Euros per year. This will probably rise to more than 100 million Euros per year from 2019 onward. Further, the party has established and acknowledged a foundation for political education, and other purposes, close to the party but organized separately, which may be able to claim up to 80 million Euro per year.[173] This foundation would need to be acknowledged by the federal parliament in Germany first, but it generally has a legal claim to these subsidies.

In 2018, the Alternative for Germany donation scandal became public: federal and European politicians Alice Weidel, Jörg Meuthen, Marcus Pretzell and Guido Reil had profited from illegal and unnamed donations from non-EU countries. The acceptance of donations from non-EU countries is prohibited for German parties and politicians.

European affiliationsEdit

Following the 2014 European Parliament elections, on 12 June 2014 the AfD was accepted into the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European Parliament.[80]

In February 2016, the AfD announced a closer cooperation with the right-wing populist party Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), which is a member of the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group.[93] On 8 March 2016, the bureau of the ECR Group began motions to exclude AfD MEPs from their group due to the party's links with the far-right FPÖ and controversial remarks by two party leader, about shooting immigrants.[94][95] MEP Beatrix von Storch pre-empted her imminent expulsion by leaving the ECR group to join the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group on 8 April,[96][97] and Marcus Pretzell was expelled from the ECR group on 12 April 2016.[98] During the AfD party convention on 30 April 2016, Pretzell announced his intention to join the Europe of Nations and Freedom group,[174][175] although he subsequently left the AfD to join Petry's Blue Party.[176]

In April 2019, Jörg Meuthen appeared alongside Northern League leader Matteo Salvini, National Rally leader Marine Le Pen and politicians from the Danish People's Party and Freedom Party of Austria to announce the formation of a new European political alliance.[177] The AfD later joined this group in the European Parliament, which was ultimately named the Identity and Democracy group.[178]

Public imageEdit

Alternative for Germany in 2013

Early daysEdit

At the outset AfD presented itself as conservative and middle-class, catering to a well-educated demographic; around two-thirds of supporters listed on its website in the early days held doctorates, leading to AfD being nicknamed the "professors' party" in those early days.[179][180][181] The party was described[who?] as professors and academics who dislike the compromises inflicted on their purist theories by German party politics.[182] 86% of the party's initial supporters were male.[69]

Relationship with right-wing groupsEdit

Sticker of nationalistic Identitarian movement at AfD Bavaria Banner

Outside the Berlin hotel where the party held its inaugural meeting, it has been alleged that copies of Junge Freiheit, a weekly that is also popular with the far right, were being handed out.[183] The Rheinische Post pointed out that some AfD members and supporters write for the conservative paper.[67][184] There was also a protest outside the venue of the party's inaugural meeting by Andreas Storr, a National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) representative in the Landtag of Saxony, as the NPD sees the AfD as a rival for Eurosceptic votes.[185]

In 2013, Alternative for Germany party organisers sent out the message that they are not trying to attract right-wing radicals, and toned down rhetoric on their Facebook page following media allegations that it too closely evoked the language of the far right.[179][186] At that time, the AfD checked applicants for membership to exclude far-right and former NPD members who support the anti-Euro policy.[179][180][187] The former party chairman Bernd Lucke stated that "The applause is coming from the wrong side" in regards to praise his party gained from the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD).[179]

Members of the German Green Party have accused AfD of pandering to xenophobic and nationalistic sentiments.[188] There have been altercations between AfD members and Green Youth members.[188]

Following the German Federal Election 2013, the anti-Islam German Freedom Party unilaterally pledged to support Alternative for Germany in the 2014 elections and concentrate its efforts on local elections only.[189] Bernd Lucke responded by saying that the German Freedom Party's support was unwanted and sent a letter to AfD party associations recommending a hiring freeze.[190]

Stern reported that among 396 AfD candidates for the 2017 Bundestag, 47 candidates did not distance themselves from right-wing extremism. Although a large proportion of the candidates are not openly racist, some relativize Germany's role in World War II or call for the recognition of a "Cult of Guilt". 30 candidates claimed to tolerate right-wing friends in their profile or were themselves members of groups associated with such people. Others said that they mourned the German Reich or used their symbols.[191]

Opposition to same sex marriageEdit

The deputy leader of AfD, Beatrix von Storch, has publicly opposed same-sex marriage. In an effort to overturn same sex marriage laws, AfD filed a lawsuit over the issue in 2017.[192]


In 2016, AfD Member of the European Parliament, Marcus Pretzell was expelled from the party after he said that German borders should be defended from incursion by refugees "with armed force as a measure of last resort".[98]

Later that same year former AfD party chair and Member of the European Parliament, Frauke Petry told a reporter from the regional newspaper Mannheimer Morgen that the German Border police must do their jobs by "hindering illegal entry of refugees" and that they may "use firearms if necessary" to "prevent illegal border crossings".[193][194] Petry later stated that no policeman "wants to fire on a refugee and I don't want that either" but that border police must follow the law to maintain the integrity of European borders. Afterwards, Petry made several attempts to justify these statements.[194]


In response to the Pegida movement and demonstrations, members of AfD have expressed different opinions of it, with Lucke describing the movement as "a sign that these people do not feel their concerns are understood by politicians".[195] In response to the CDU Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière alleging an "overlap" between Pegida rallies and the AfD, Alexander Gauland stated that the AfD are "natural allies of this movement".[196] Hans-Olaf Henkel asked members of the party not to join the demonstrations, telling Der Tagesspiegel that he believed it could not be ruled out that they had "xenophobic or even racist connotations".[195] A straw poll by The Economist found that nine out of ten Pegida protesters would back the AfD.[197]


The AfD is anti-communist and engaged in red-baiting by comparing the centre-right Angela Merkel and her government to the secret police in East Germany.[198] In May 2018, a statue of the founding father of communism Karl Marx, donated by the Chinese government, was unveiled in Marx's hometown of Trier. AfD leader Alexander Gauland said the city should not accept the statue, saying that it disrespects victims of communism.[199] AfD staged a silent march to remember the victims of communist regimes.[200]

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of EuropeEdit

Björn Höcke, one of the founders of AfD,[201][202][203][204] gave a speech in Dresden in January 2017, in which, referring to the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, he stated that "we Germans are the only people in the world who have planted a memorial of shame in the heart of their capital",[205] and suggested that Germans "need to make a 180 degree change in their politics of commemoration".[206]

The speech was widely criticized as antisemitic, among others by Jewish leaders in Germany.[205][207] Within the AfD, he was described by his party chairwoman, Frauke Petry, as a "burden to the party", while other members of the party, such as Alexander Gauland, said that they found no antisemitism in the speech.[205]

As a result of his speech, the leaders of the AfD have asked in February 2017 that Björn Höcke be expelled from the party. The arbitration committee of the AfD in Thuringia is set to rule on the leaders' request.[208] As of August 2017, Höcke remains "a part of the soul of the AfD".[209]

Junge Alternative youth organisationEdit

The Young Alternative for Germany (German: Junge Alternative für Deutschland or JA), was founded in 2013 as the youth organisation of the AfD, while remaining legally independent from its mother party.[64]

In view of the JA's independence it has been regarded by some in the AfD hierarchy as being somewhat wayward,[210] with the JA repeatedly accused of being "too far-right",[211] politically regressive and antifeminist by the German mainstream media.[210][212][213]

Election resultsEdit

Federal Parliament (Bundestag)Edit

Election Constituency Party list Seats +/– Status
Votes % Votes %
2013[214] 810,915 1.9 (#8) 2,056,985 4.7 (#7)
0 / 631
2017[110][111] 5,316,095 11.5 (#3) 5,877,094 12.6 (#3)
94 / 709
  94 Opposition
2021 4,694,017 10.1 (#4) 4,802,097 10.3 (#5)
83 / 735
  11 Opposition

European ParliamentEdit

Election Votes % Seats +/–
2014[215] 2,070,014 7.1 (#5)
7 / 96
2019 4,103,453 11.0 (#4)
11 / 96

State parliaments (Landtage)Edit

State parliament Election Votes % Seats +/– Status
Baden-Württemberg 2021 473,309 9.7 (#5)
17 / 154
  6 Opposition
Bavaria 2018[216] 1,383,866 10.2 (#4)
22 / 205
  22 Opposition
Berlin 2021 145,494 8.0 (#5)
13 / 147
  12 Opposition
Brandenburg 2019 297,484 23.5 (#2)
23 / 88
  12 Opposition
Bremen 2019[217] 89,744 6.1 (#5)
5 / 84
  1 Opposition
Hamburg 2020 211,327 5.3 (#5)
7 / 123
  1 Opposition
Hesse 2018 378,692 13.1 (#4)
19 / 137
  19 Opposition
Lower Saxony 2017[216] 235,840 6.2 (#5)
9 / 137
  9 Opposition
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 2021 152,747 16.7 (#2)
14 / 79
  4 Opposition
North Rhine-Westphalia 2017[218] 624,552 7.4 (#4)
16 / 199
  16 Opposition
Rhineland-Palatinate 2021 160,273 8.3 (#4)
9 / 101
  5 Opposition
Saarland 2017[219] 32,971 6.2 (#4)
3 / 51
  3 Opposition
Saxony 2019 595,671 27.5 (#2)
38 / 119
  24 Opposition
Saxony-Anhalt 2021 221,487 20.8 (#2)
23 / 97
  2 Opposition
Schleswig-Holstein 2017[220] 86,275 5.9 (#5)
5 / 73
  5 Opposition
Thuringia 2019 259,359 23.4 (#2)
22 / 90
  11 Opposition

See alsoEdit




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Further readingEdit

  • Arzheimer, Kai. "The AfD: Finally a successful right-wing populist Eurosceptic party for Germany?." West European Politics 38.3 (2015): 535-556 online
  • Arzheimer, Kai, and Carl C. Berning. "How the alternative for Germany (AfD) and their voters veered to the radical right, 2013–2017." Electoral Studies 60 (2019): 102040.
  • Berbuir, Nicole, Marcel Lewandowsky, and Jasmin Siri. "The AfD and its sympathisers: Finally a right-wing populist movement in Germany?." German Politics 24.2 (2015): 154-178 online.
  • Diermeier, Matthias. "The AfD’s Winning Formula—No Need for Economic Strategy Blurring in Germany." Intereconomics 55.1 (2020): 43–52. online
  • Franz, Christian, Marcel Fratzscher, and Alexander Kritikos. "At opposite poles: How the success of the Green Party and AfD reflects the geographical and social cleavages in Germany." DIW Weekly Report 9.34 (2019): 289–300. online
  • Pfahl-Traughber, Armin (2019). Die AfD und der Rechtsextremismus: Eine Analyse aus politikwissenschaftlicher Perspektive. Springer VS, ISBN 978-3-658-25179-6.
  • Hansen, Michael A., and Jonathan Olsen. "Flesh of the same flesh: A study of voters for the alternative for Germany (AfD) in the 2017 federal election." German Politics 28.1 (2019): 1-19. online
  • Havertz, Ralf. "Right-wing populism and neoliberalism in Germany: The AfD’s embrace of ordoliberalism." New Political Economy 24.3 (2019): 385–403.
  • Rosellini, Jay. The German New Right: AfD, PEGIDA and the Re-Imagining of National Identity (Hurst, 2020) online review
  • Spiegel Online's Guide to German Political Parties: Alternative for Germany

External linksEdit