Alternative for Germany

Alternative for Germany (German: Alternative für Deutschland, AfD) is a right-wing[23] to far-right[24] political party in Germany. Founded in April 2013, the AfD narrowly missed the 5% electoral threshold to sit in the Bundestag during the 2013 federal election. In 2014, the party won seven seats in the European election 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 the 2017 federal election, winning 94 seats in the Bundestag, which was the first time the AfD was represented in the Bundestag. The party is chaired by Jörg Meuthen and Tino Chrupalla; its lead candidates in the 2017 elections were AfD Co-Vice Chairman Alexander Gauland and Alice Weidel, who now serves as the party group leader in the Bundestag. Since 2017, AfD is also the largest opposition party in the Bundestag.

Alternative for Germany

Alternative für Deutschland
Parliamentary leadership
Founded6 February 2013 (2013-02-06)
HeadquartersSchillstraße 9
10785 Berlin
Youth wingYoung Alternative for Germany
Membership (February 2019) 35,000[1]
Political positionRight-wing[23] to far-right[24]
European affiliationNone
European Parliament group
  • ECR (2014–2016)
  • EFDD (2016–2019)
  • ID (since 2019)
  •      Light blue
  •      Red
91 / 709
State Parliaments
243 / 1,866
European Parliament
11 / 96

The party has been described as a German nationalist,[2][3][4] right-wing populist,[8] and Eurosceptic[9] party. Since about 2015, the AfD has been increasingly open to working with far-right extremist groups such as Pegida.[25] Parts of the AfD have racist,[26] Islamophobic,[27] anti-Semitic,[28][29] and xenophobic[16][30][31] tendencies linked to far-right movements such as neo-Nazism[32][29] and identitarianism.[33][34]



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. 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".[35]

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.[35][36] 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.[37] Advocating the abolition of the Euro, Alternative for Germany (AfD) took a more radical stance than the Free Voters.[38] Likewise, the Pirate Party of Germany opposed any coalition with the AfD at their 2013 spring convention.[39]

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.[40][41]

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,[42] entrepreneur Frauke Petry and Konrad Adam were elected as speakers.[43] 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.[44] 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.[45] 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.[46] 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.[47]

The party was created by Bernd Lucke, Alexander Gauland, and Konrad Adam to confront German-supported bailouts for poorer southern European countries.[48]

2013 federal election

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.[49]

2013 state elections

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,[50] who was not re-elected and left office in January 2014.[51] 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.

2014 European Parliament election

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.[52]

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"),[53] 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.[54] 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.[53][54][55] Candidates from 7th–28th place on the party list were selected in Berlin on 1 February.[56] 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.[57] 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.[58] stating that he saw the British Conservatives as the preferred partner in the European Parliament.[58] On 10 May 2014 Bernd Lucke had been in talks with the Czech and Polish member parties of ECR group.[59]

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.[60] 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.[61] The official vote result was not released to the public, but figures of 29 votes for and 26 against were reported by the membership.[61]

2014 state elections

On 31 August 2014, the AfD scored 9.7% of the vote in the Saxony state election,[62] winning 14 seats in the Landtag of Saxony.[63] 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.[64]

2015 state elections

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,[65] 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 5th state parliament on a 50% turnout.[66]

Petry assumes leadership, Lucke quits

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.[67] Petry was a member of the national-conservative faction of the AfD.[68] 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,[69] a shift which was claimed by Lucke as turning the party into a "Pegida party".[70] In the following week, five MEPs exited the party on 7 July, the only remaining MEPs being Beatrix von Storch and Marcus Pretzell[71] 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.[72] 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.[73]

Co-operation with FPÖ and exclusion from ECR group

In February 2016, the AfD announced a cooperation pact with the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ).[74] 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,[75] 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.[76] While MEP Beatrix von Storch left the ECR group on 8 April to join the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group,[77][78] Marcus Pretzell let himself be expelled on 12 April 2016.[79]

2016 state elections

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.[80][81] 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.[82][83] 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,[84] 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.[85]

2016 party congress

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".[86][87][88][89]

2017 federal election

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.[90] The party chose Alexander Gauland, a stark conservative who worked as an editor and was a former member of the CDU,[91] 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.[92] 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.[92]

In the 2017 German federal elections, the AfD won 12.6% of the vote and received 94 seats; this was the first time it had won seats in the Bundestag.[93][94] 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 parties

At a press conference held by AfD the day after the election, 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.[95][96] 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,[95] which folded in December 2018. On November 6, 2019, Petry announced that the Blue Party would dissolve by the end of the year [97]

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.[98]

Ideology and policies

The AfD was founded as a centre-right conservative party of the middle class with a tendency toward soft Euroscepticism, 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.[99][100][101] At that time, the party also advocated support for Swiss-style direct democracy, dissolution of the Eurozone, opposition to immigration and opposed gay marriage.[20]

By May 2015, the party became polarised into two factions, one centred around Lucke and his core economic policies and another group led by Petry, which favoured an anti-immigration approach. The result was that Lucke's faction left to found a new party: the Alliance for Progress and Renewal,[102] later renamed the Liberal Conservative Reformers in November 2016. AfD also supports the privatization of social programs and state owned enterprises.[103][104]

German nationalism

Over time, a focus on German nationalism, on reclaiming Germany's sovereignty and national pride, especially in repudiation to 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.[2][3][4]

For example: Petry, who led the moderate wing of the party, said that Germany should reclaim the German word "völkisch" from its Nazi connotations,[105] 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', 'people', but with a strong ethnic/racial connotation).[2]

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 the "laughable policy of coming to terms with the past".[106][107] Höcke continued that Germany should make a "180 degree" turn with regard to its sense of national pride.[2]

The party also describes German national identity as under threat both from European integration and from the presence and accommodation of immigrants and refugees within Germany; its anti-immigration message is often articulated in this way, especially with regard to Islam.[3][4]

Homosexuality and feminism

According to its interim electoral manifesto, the party is against same-sex marriage and favours civil unions. The party is also against adoption for same-sex couples.[108] The left-leaning newspaper Die Tageszeitung described the group as advocating "old gender roles".[109] 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.[110] As AfD has campaigned for traditional roles for women, it has aligned itself with groups opposed to modern feminism.[111] The youth wing of the party has used social media to campaign against aspects of modern feminism, with the support of party leadership.[112]


The party has a platform of climate change scepticism[108][113] and therefore criticizes the energy transformation policies (Energiewende) that have promoted renewable energy. The party wants to most notably restrict "uncontrolled expansion of wind energy".[108]


AfD wants a reinstatement of conscription, starting for men at the age of 18.[114][108]

Foreign policy

see also AfD pro-Russia movement

In foreign policy, as of 2015, the party platform was pro-NATO, pro-United States and largely pro-Israel,[15][115] but the party was significantly divided on whether to support Russia, and had opposed sanctions on Russia supported by NATO and the United States.[116] It is also divided on free-trade agreements.[116] In March 2019, party leader Alexander Gauland said in an interview with the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda that they consider the War in Donbass 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.[117]

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.[118] 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.[119][120][121][122]

AfD supported the decision of US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.[123] Beatrix von Storch, the party's deputy spokesperson, said: "As long as Germany provides Islamic regimes such as Turkey or Saudi Arabia with arms, there is no reason why Israel, as a pro-Western, democratic state should be excluded from arms deals."[124]


membership numbers
2013 17,687[125]
2014 20,728[125]
2015 16,385[125]
2016 26,409[125]
2017 29,000[126]
2018 33,500[127]
2019 35,000[1]

Party finances

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,[128] 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.[129] 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.[130] This foundation would be 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, the 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 affiliations

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.[61]

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.[74] 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.[75][76] 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,[77][78] and Marcus Pretzell was expelled from the ECR group on 12 April 2016.[79] During the AfD party convention on 30 April 2016, Pretzell announced his intention to join the Europe of Nations and Freedom group.[131][132]

Public image

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.[133][134][135] The party was described as professors and academics who dislike the compromises inflicted on their purist theories by German party politics.[136] 86% of the party's initial supporters were male.[50]

Relationship with far-right groups

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.[137] The Rheinische Post pointed out that some AfD members and supporters write for the conservative paper Junge Freiheit.[47][138] 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.[139]

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.[133][140] At that time, the AfD checked applicants for membership to exclude far-right and former NPD members who support the anti-Euro policy (as other mainstream German political parties do).[133][134][141] The former party chairman Bernd Lucke initially defended the choice of words, citing freedom of opinion, and a right to use "strong words", meanwhile he has also said that "The applause is coming from the wrong side" in regards to praise his party gained from the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD).[133]

A 2013 investigation conducted by the internet social analytic company Linkfluence showed little to no similarities in Facebook likes of AfD followers and those of the NPD supporter base.[142] AfD members interests tended towards euroscepticism and direct democracy, while NPD supporters showed interests in anti-Islamification, right-wing rock bands and the German military.[142] An evaluation between the hyperlinks included on AFD local party websites also showed few similarities, with the company's German chief-executive stating "The AfD supporter base and the right-wing extremist scene are digitally very far removed from one another".[142] The analysis did point to AfD members favouring links with right-wing populist reactionary conservative content.[142] The AfD's desire to break consensus-based politics and oppose political correctness as undermining freedom of speech, does lend it kudos as a legitimate mouthpiece for right-wing populism among some of the party membership and on regional AfD websites, which contrasts with the intellectual character of the party hierarchy.[142]

In August 2013, political activists from far-left anti-fascist anarchists to the mainstream Green Party accusing it of pandering to xenophobic and nationalistic sentiments.[143] This ultimately led to the AfD complaining over incidents of verbal abuse and violence to its campaigners in Berlin, Lübeck, Nuremberg and the university city of Göttingen.[143] Incidents in Göttingen flared after a party conference on 1 August, with police intervening later in the month in an attempted garage arson attack (in which there was said to be a car filled with AfD campaign literature) and to break up a dispute between the AfD and members of the Green Youth.[143] Party leader Bernd Lucke described the events as a "slap in the face for every person who supports democracy" with the party in Lower Saxony left questioning whether to abandon their campaign in the state as local pub and restaurant owners denied the party access to their venues fearing for their businesses.[143]

On 24 August 2013, Lucke and 16 other party members were reported to have been attacked in Bremen by opponents who used pepper spray and pushed Lucke from the stage. Initial reports by party officials and the police suggested that they were left-wing extremists, and that about eight out of 20–25 attackers had succeeded in getting onto the stage. It was reported that a campaign worker had been cut with a knife. Later the police indicated that the number of people was probably around 10, of whom only two were known to have gained access to the stage, that only one of the opponents was known to be a left wing activist, and that the minor cut sustained by a campaign worker was probably not caused by a knife and was incurred later when attempting to apprehend a fleeing attacker.[144]

Following the German Federal Election 2013, the anti-Islam party Die Freiheit unilaterally pledged to support Alternative for Germany in the 2014 elections and concentrate its efforts on local elections only.[145] Bernd Lucke responded by saying the recommendation was unwelcome and sent a letter to party associations recommending a hiring freeze.[146] Earlier in September, Lucke described the Freedom Party members as coming from two camps, one of extreme Islam critics and populists, the other, ordinary democrats who were joining the AfD.[145] Co-operation with the Freedom Party remains controversial within the ranks of the AfD,[146] with some German state associations conducting vetting interviews with former Freedom Party members.[145] Referring to an initiative for an LGBT specific sex education in elementary school, Petry had asked on her social media presence if homophobia was such a common prejudice among third and fourth grade children, that it would be necessary to confront them with it. An article in the German LGBT magazine Queer interpreted her statement as a demand to protect "normal" (allegedly referring to heterosexual) families in elementary school.[147]

AfD MEP Beatrix von Storch is a known opponent of same-sex marriage.[148] She has accused school gay youth networks of using "forced sexualization" on their students.

In November 2015, a leading Berlin theatre, the Schaubühne, was brought into legal conflict with members of the AfD over a piece, Falk Richter's FEAR, that parodied them as zombies and mass murderers.[149] AfD vice-president Beatrix von Storch is depicted facing retribution for her maternal grandfather's role as a minister in Hitler's government.[150] AfD Spokesperson, Christian Lüth, responded by interrupting a performance and filming it. Beatrix von Storch, and Conservative spokesperson Hedwig von Beverfoerde, then requested and obtained a preliminary injunction against the theatre, prohibiting it from using images of them in the production. They charged that the images' use violated their human dignity protected under the Constitution.[151] On 15 December 2015, the court ruled against the complainants in favour of the theatre's freedom of expression and lifted the injunctions against using the images. The judges commented that 'any audience member can recognize that this is just a play'.[152]

In November 2015, Markus Pretzell said that German borders should be defended "with armed force as a measure of last resort",[79] and in January 2016, Frauke Petry twice said similar things.[153] Petry told the regional newspaper Mannheimer Morgen in an interview, but she later denied this and claimed that the press lied about her statement. Rhein-Zeitung has offered the audio-recording of the interview in which she advocates firing on refugees.[154]

Stern reports that among 396 AfD candidates for the 2017 Bundestag, 47 candidates have not distanced 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 tolerate right-wing friends in their profile or are themselves members of groups associated with such people. Others mourn the German Reich or use their symbols.[155]


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".[156] 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".[157] However, 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".[156] A straw poll by The Economist found that nine out of ten Pegida protesters would back the AfD.[158]


In May 2018, the statue of the founding father of communism Karl Marx, donated by the Chinese government, was unveiled in Karl Marx's hometown of Trier, Germany. AfD leader Alexander Gauland said the city should not be accepting the statue because it disrespects victims of communism.[159] AfD staged a silent march to remember the victims of communist regimes.[160]

National memory

Björn Höcke, one of the founders of AfD,[161][162][163][164] 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",[165] and suggested that Germans "need to make a 180 degree change in their politics of commemoration".[166]

The speech was widely criticized as antisemitic, among others by Jewish leaders in Germany.[165][167] 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.[165]

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.[168] As of August 2017, Höcke remains "a part of the soul of the AfD".[169]

Junge Alternative youth organisation

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.[44]

In view of the JA's independence it has been regarded by some in the AfD hierarchy as being somewhat wayward,[170] with the JA repeatedly accused of being "too far-right",[171] politically regressive and antifeminist by the German mainstream media.[170][172][173]


Federal Parliament (Bundestag)

Election year Constituency


Party list


% of

party list votes

Seats won +/– Status
2013[174] 810,915 2,056,985 4.7
0 / 631
0 Extra-parliamentary
2017[93][94] 5,316,095 5,877,094 12.6
94 / 709
94 Opposition

European Parliament

Election year Votes % of vote Rank Seats won +/–
2014[175] 2,070,014 7.1 #5
7 / 96
2019 4,103,453 11.0 #4
11 / 96

State Parliaments (Landtage)

State Parliament Election year No. of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
Seats Government
No. ± Position
Baden-Württemberg 2016[176] 809,311 15.1 (3rd)
23 / 143
23 3rd Opposition
Bavaria 2018[177] 1,383,866 10.2 (4th)
22 / 205
22 4th Opposition
Berlin 2016[178] 231,325 14.2 (5th)
25 / 160
25 5th Opposition
Brandenburg 2019 297,484 23.5 (2nd)
23 / 88
12 2nd Opposition
Bremen 2019[179] 89,744 6.1 (5th)
5 / 84
1[180][181] 5th Opposition
Hamburg 2015[182] 214,833 6.1 (6th)
8 / 121
8 6th Opposition
Hesse 2018 378,692 13.1 (4th)
19 / 137
19 4th Opposition
Lower Saxony 2017[183] 235,840 6.2 (5th)
9 / 137
9 5th Opposition
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 2016[184] 167,453 20.8 (2nd)
18 / 71
18 2nd Opposition
North Rhine-Westphalia 2017[185] 624,552 7.4 (4th)
16 / 199
16 4th Opposition
Rhineland-Palatinate 2016[186] 267,813 12.6 (3rd)
14 / 101
14 3rd Opposition
Saarland 2017[187] 32,971 6.2 (4th)
3 / 51
3 4th Opposition
Saxony 2019 595,671 27.5 (2nd)
38 / 119
24 2nd Opposition
Saxony-Anhalt 2016[188] 271,646 24.4 (2nd)
25 / 87
25 2nd Opposition
Schleswig-Holstein 2017[189] 86,275 5.9 (5th)
5 / 73
5 5th Opposition
Thuringia 2019 259,359 23.4 (2nd)
22 / 90
11 2nd Opposition

See also



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