Alternative für Deutschland's Appeal to Native Youth in Dresden: Heritage Populism

Published on April 3, 2023 

Book chapter in Ayhan Kaya, Ayşenur Benevento, Metin Koca Eds.(2023) Nativist and Islamist Radicalism: Anger and Anxiety, London: Routledge.

Right-wing populist parties and their supporters in Europe who are exposed to the ambiguities, anxieties, and insecurities of the present times are more likely to assemble their futures with a set of retrospective discourses, emotions, and aspirations, which amplify the past, myths, local history, home, and the nation. Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany [AfD]) is a right-wing populist party that has so far successfully exploited the past in mainstreaming its political project. The use of the past provides some disenfranchised individuals with a shield to protect them against the perils of globalisation. Today, the past is being used in different ways, ranging from abuses, lies, and vulgarisation to political cultures of regret and sorrow, as in the exploitation of both a dissonant, dark and distant past by the AfD. Based on an extensive desk research, as well as a set of semi-structured interviews conducted with young supporters of the AfD in Dresden (Germany) in 2020 and 2021, this chapter will demonstrate how the AfD has utilised heritage populism to appeal to supporters in politically and ideologically remote places who experience socio-economic, spatial and nostalgic deprivation. Referring to the testimonies of 20 young AfD supporters in Saxony and Dresden, as well as to the social movements theory, the chapter will also track the root causes of the appeal of nativism, nationalism, revisionism, civilisationism, and Islamophobism to native youngsters within the age bracket of 18–30.

Available under a Gold Open Access License

Taylor & Francis open access link to the chapter