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In last year's German election - which still hasn't produced a new govenment - Angela Merkel's "Mitte" ("Centre") message resulted in a 8.6% reduction I'm her CDU's party vote share. The Christian Democrats fell to 32.9%. Photo credit: Bernd von Jutrczenka/DPA/PA Images.

Fear of economic AND social loss drove Germany’s AfD

A new study from the Hans Bocker Foundation found that half of voters backing the populist Alternative for Germany party in last autumn’s election did so out of fear that they were losing their social or economic status. This fear pertained even if workers were employed and had currently steady incomes. Perhaps the most telling finding was that AfD voters often felt they had little control over their lives. About 39% of middle-income AfD voters, for example, agreed with the statement that “what happens to me is decided elsewhere in the world”.

Note what is not mentioned: mass migration. It’s possible that the sudden migration of Syrian and other Middle Eastern refugees that featured so prominently in AfD’s rise triggered or exacerbated this underlying fear of loss of control and status. In any event, the study points to the complexity of what drives blue-collar populism, and therefore should be required reading for the “In’s” who want to believe that populism is a simple expression of racism or bigotry.

From last week...

What does Germany's SPD fear most? AfD or a collapse in the polls?

By Henry Olsen