Rüdiger Schmitt-Beck
The ‘Alternative für Deutschland’ in the Electorate: Between Single-Issue and Right-Wing Populist Party

German Politics, 2017: 26, Heft 1, S. 124-148
ISSN: 0964-4008 (print); 1743-8993 (online)

The good result of the recently formed Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) was a striking outcome of the 2013 Federal Election. This article explores why AfD supporters chose this party at the 2013 Federal Election and at the 2014 European and eastern German State (Land) Elections. At the Federal Election the AfD's electorate was composed of two groups: a minority of instrumental issue-voters that were drawn to the AfD by its emphasis and positioning on the Euro crisis, and a majority of ‘late supporters’ that decided close to Election Day and were moved more by expressive motives, most notably xenophobic sentiments like those identified in other European countries as a main source of support for right-wing populist parties. The analysis of the subsequent elections shows that, paralleling developments in the AfD's public rhetoric, the Euro crisis ceased to be important for AfD support whereas xenophobic motives became more central.