How the AfD convinced the left behind

By Astrid Vlaeminck

The AfD, Alternative für Deutschland, a right-winged party in Germany chooses for some traditional Nazi-strategies. They use simple slogans, organize meetings in market squares and promise that they have the nation a lot to give. The core of their strategy is to make the left behind feel understood.

One of the differences between the AfD propaganda and the Nazi’s in the Second World War is, that the AfD members don’t wear uniforms or use harsh aggression. Zöllner: “People don’t vote for parties who smash doors or kill foreigners or people of another religion. But rather they vote for people who say: “Oh, hello how are you?” that is something they’ve learned.“

Olivier Zöllner, a professor of media research and media sociology is observing this rise of the right-winged parties in Germany. “I think there is a lot of helplessness in German politics regarding how to cope with these strategies of right-winged parties and how do you beat them at that game.”

AfD became the third-largest party in the Bundestag in the last elections of 2017. Their gain of votes (+7.9%) got a lot of attention. Therefor the governments of the Federal Republic were formed with a vast majority of votes for the parties CDU / CSU, SPD, and FDP.

The AfD didn’t make it to the coalition but that wasn’t their goal. The party claims to be a strong opposition party for the left behind, the people who don’t have confidence in the established parties, the people who don’t feel represented.

Zöllner isn’t surprised that in East German cities the AfD gained a lot of votes especially in Brandenburg (23.5%) and Saxony (27.5%). In those cities, a lot of people don’t agree with a party program that is into modernism, pro-immigration and advocates an open society. “There have been a lot of changes during the past 30 years. And now the East-Germans said enough is enough, we want to stop this, we want to have it like in the old days and we want to be heard, we don’t want to be left behind.”

The AfD isn’t only good at recycling old strategies but also at their use of modern media like Twitter. The main goal of their use of media is again to project the image of caring for their nation. But although the propaganda of the AfD varies of the propaganda in the Second World War it’s still dangerous, according to Zöllner. “Modern propaganda is just like classic propaganda: it’s a projecting lie and disguising it to truth in order to convince people to do something.”