Towards the mainstream? The AfD as a case study



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Tartu Ülikool


The radical right-wing party, the Alternative für Deutschland, caused a political tremor in 2017 German election by changing the political landscape significantly while becoming the third largest party in the Bundestag. Also, with most of the studies that asses AfD’s development being published while the party was starting to transform itself, the Euro crisis has lost its urgency, and given that party has been going through internal struggles for a while between ‘liberals’ and ‘extremists’ leads to the question on whether the AfD has shifted towards the mainstream? This dissertation works with the definition of ‘mainstreaming’ provided by Akkerman et al. (2016) and assess the party change along four key dimensions: 1) changes with respect to radical positions on core issues; 2) changes from a niche party to a party that focused on socioeconomic issues; 3) changes in the anti-establishment profile; and 4) changes regarding the party reputation. The research strategy adopted to this dissertation is the qualitative case study and consisted of a review of relevant literature the topic, coupled with the collection and analysis of a comprehensive range source of data. The findings from this research show that there is no sign that the AfD is shifting towards the mainstream; on the contrary, the party is tending to radicalize along first three dimensions while showing signs of mainstreaming on the fourth dimension to avoid possible juridical actions.