The Rise of German Right Radical Movements

Maria Kataeva,
second-year master’s students, School of Governance and Politics, MGIMO University

Abstract: The transformation of right-wing radical movements from marginal groups into important players in the political arena sparks the great interest among researchers. There are many theories explaining their success in politics, assessments of the growth of nationalism in the world and forecasts about the future of Europe.

The last 20 years of socio-political life in Europe was marked by the significant success of radical right-wing parties in the elections. Over the past decade, one of the most obvious trends in the political situation in the Federal Republic of Germany is the growing support for right-wing radical parties, whose rhetoric is characterized by a nationalistic, anti-emigration and anti-elite character. The reasons for the growing popularity of right-wing radical movements are the progressive migration and economic crises in the European region.

Key words: right-wing, nationalism, migration, radicals, ethnocentrism

Although many right-wing countries are gaining in popularity in many countries, right-wing radicals in Germany are attracting special interest, both scientists and the public, because of the German history of the twentieth century.

Nowadays, it is necessary to study the European experience of the coexistence of democratic parties that support the existing political system of the state, and organized, "electoral" right radicalism, which is not so much opposition to a particular party as to the party system as a whole. To study right radicalism, it is extremely important to understand the terminology associated with this political phenomenon, and to establish taxonomic categories that classify and systematize the extremely right flank of political space.

Assessing the current trends in the development of right-wing radicalism, we should note a steady desire to abandon the comprehension of this political phenomenon of public authorities.

Actualizing factor of the problem is political activity - specific actions of right-wing radicals - terrorist attacks, acts of vandalism, etc. However, a stereotype of underestimation of the danger of manifestations of right-wing radicalism and fundamentalism is formed in society.

Main characteristics of right radical movements in Germany

Having distanced from various historical groups and focusing on analyzing the ideological part of the platform of the right radicals in Germany, one should arrive at the following features, which are used in a theoretical framework:

  • Neo-racism, or propaganda of the exclusivity or superiority of one group of people over the total population. Despite the impossibility of the appearance of racial hatred of fascist times due to the cultural development of European countries, PDPs use the image of a migrant (often a Muslim) as black sheep in a white flock or as trash that captures the country.
  • Protection of national identity or ethnocentrism. This should also include the preservation of the cult of traditional values, marriage between a man and a woman and others.
  • Commitment to liberal principles. The overwhelming majority of the PDPs favor the reduction of the state's influence on the economy.
  • Organicism and solidarity. A nation is represented to right-wing radicals as an organism in which the place of workers and capital is predetermined by norms, and the subjects of relations themselves are responsible to each other, and social assistance exists within the framework of the reasonable.
  • Critical attitude to the modern model of European integration. The PDPs in the bulk criticize the project of the European Union and other integration processes in the European space, while participating in elections to the European Parliament. It should be noted that parties have differences in the level of negativity towards the integration project.

The above-mentioned features of a theoretical nature belong to the radical right-wing nationalist parties. Undoubtedly, the fact of having each of the above principles and the order of priority tasks will depend on the situation in each individual country, where it is necessary to take into account the political, economic situation, etc.[1]

The key difference between the extreme right of our time from fascists or extremist elements is the recognition of modern institutions of democracy, and the expression of the desire for fair, equitable participation in elections. Modern extreme right-wing parties are anti-elitist communities that try to exert manipulative influence on anti-party sentiments. These parties are inclined to manifest public outrage in the public, harsh statements provoking provocation, the announcement of high-profile stories, which are actively manifested in the media.

One of the outstanding features of the parties is the presence of an extraordinary personality of the leader of the party, which is an example of charisma, which clearly demonstrates its positive aspects. As a rule, the leader is a native with a long history of family living, dissatisfied with the current situation, blaming current problems for a certain social group, which is responsible for the setbacks. It should be noted that the right-wing radical parties, after studying historical lessons, have ceased to endorse the contradictions that exist within the collective for the public and are trying to present their activities as a process of protecting the masses from corruption and egoism taking place in politics, paying attention not to differences between social classes, and to work on behalf of national unity.[2]

The ideological foundation of every right-wing radical party is traditionally served by nationalism, it is under this prism that all issues such as democracy and freedom are considered. According to the representation of parties, the above issues are freely available only in a homogenous society, hence the promotion of the policy of cultural assimilation, the deportation of foreigners from the country. Therefore, they advocate the principle of "national preference" - all the benefits produced in the country should be distributed among its citizens, and not be received by newly arrived migrants.

Thus, after the Second World War, the emerging right-wing radical groups in Germany were marginalized and squeezed out of the German political space, although they continued to work, worked out a political program, while the right-wing radical parties retained some of their electorate.

Modern right radical movements in Germany

Radical in nature movements in Germany are mainly composed of young people, while the average age of members of traditional parties for Germany is constantly increasing, and trade unions complain about the lack of young professionals in their ranks.

Moderately right-wing parties in Germany such as the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian-Social Union (CSU), and have such values ​​as religion, family, marriage, etc[3]. Their connection with the Social Democrats makes them close to such a party as the Free Democratic Party (SDP).

The right-radical course in Germany absolutizes conservatism, the representatives are aggressive towards such realities of modern Germany as migration, gender equality and races, they praise the times of National Socialism and deny the crimes committed at that time that claimed thousands of lives.

Young neo-Nazis are resisted by left-wing radical groups, as in the first case, the backbone of the organization is made up of young people.

In addition to opposing themselves to liberal ideas, neo-Nazis organize clubs where young people come, and where they are agitated to join the ranks of neo-Nazis. For teenagers, such a feature as a protest is very characteristic, and all these radical trends correspond to the spirit of a modern young man in Germany, whether right-wing radicalism or radical radicalism. Many of them disagree with the views of their parents and question the legitimacy of violence by official authorities. Even while inside their political camp, participants criticize any dissenters.

For many young people, participation in protest movements is a way to prove their worth, belonging to something big and important gives youth confidence. In most cases, it is not necessary to have some talent to participate in such events, the members of the movement themselves will say that everyone must do, and even organize joint leisure.

However, not everything is so unambiguous, politically active youth who are in right-wing parties can have a double membership in moderate organizations, for example, social youth organizations, protection societies of the submerged world, fire brigade, etc.[4]

Another popular right-centrist party "Alternative for Germany", as early as 2014, members of this party make up about 10 percent. The party's activities are directed against liberalism from Brussels and are Euro-skeptical anti-American character, with every day the popularity of this party is growing and this has already affected the results of the elections in Germany.[5]

The party's main program is directed against the liberal hegemony of Brussels and has a Euro-skeptical anti-American character. The popularity of the party is growing rapidly every day, and this affected the results of regional elections in Germany in March 2016.[6]

For today, more than 21 thousand people are members of the AdG party. Has a branch in all federal states. The core of the party, in contrast to other relatively young German parties, is a group of experts in the field of economics.

In its first elections to the Bundestag in September 2013, AdG received 4.7% of the vote and nearly overcame the five percent qualification barrier for passage to parliament.[7] In May 2014, at the elections to the European Parliament for her voted 7.1% of voters, thanks to which the party was able to delegate to Brussels seven deputies.[8]

The subsequent elections on the land level brought AdG unprecedented success. She immediately managed to go to 4 land parliaments. In the elections in Saxony on August 31, 2014, she won 9.7% of the vote and received 14 seats in the Landtag. [9]When voting in Thuringia and Brandenburg on September 14, 2014, AdG received 10.6% and 12.2% of the vote and took 11 seats in each parliament. On February 15, 2015, 6% of voters voted for the AdG in Hamburg, which secured 8 seats in the Hamburg burgescape (a land parliament), on May 10, 2015, they gained 5.5% in the elections to the burghershire of Bremen and received 6 deputy seats.

During the regional elections on March 13, 2016, AdG achieved serious success by going to the Landtagues of Baden-Württemberg (15.1%), Rhineland-Palatinate (12.6%) and Saxony-Anhalt (24.2%), where it took second place after the CDU. In the parliamentary elections in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on September 4, 2016, AdG received 20.8% (second after the SPD). The electoral potential of AdG is recognized as very high. In the mentioned regions, all systemically important parties refused to join the coalition with AdG, which did not aspire to create it either.

According to the election results in Berlin in September 2016, AdG gained 14.2% (in some parts of the city more than 15% - Marzan-Hellersdorf - 23.2%, Treptov - Kepenik - 20.1%, Lichtenberg -19.1%, Spandau - 16%).

At the current stage, AdG is trying to remove from itself the label of the right-conservative Eurosceptic party, calling itself the political movement of "common sense".

During the party congress in Stuttgart on April 30 - May 1, 2016, the AdG party program was adopted. The key points are the following:

  • Islam is not inherent in the FRG ("this religion does not respect the rule of law, or even waging a struggle against it"), as well as strong Muslim symbols (minarets, public prayers, closed clothes in state and public places); although the ban on the profession of Islam is not offered, the AdG is against financing Islam from abroad;
  • priority of German culture instead of "culturalism" and the principle of subordination of the minority to the majority; support for the Canadian system of admission of foreign labor;
  • The EU is an undemocratic construction that should focus on the economic component, call for the abolition of the euro, the rejection of Turkey's admission to the EU, the ban on signing the TTIP with the United States;
  • foreign policy - the withdrawal of nuclear weapons and foreign military contingents from the territory of Germany, the conduct of NATO operations only in the zone of responsibility of the alliance, the alignment of the FRG membership in NATO with national interests, the requirement will include Hermannia in the permanent members of the UN Security Council;
  • the problems of relations with Russia are not touched upon much, there is a need to build a security system taking into account the Russian factor and cooperation with Russia.[10]

Recently, the PEGIDA party "Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West" is gaining popularity in Germany, based on the name it is clear that this party is opposed to Islam, defends traditional for Germany religion and culture, more than 390 thousand people leave for party protests.[11]

The PEGIDA movement attracts not only its activity in social networks, but also its cultural affinity with neo-Nazis. After all, even its slogan "We are a people" (Wir sind das Volk) goes back to the words formed from "folk" in Hitler's time - it is enough to recall the notion "Volkssturm "Or" Volksdeutsche ".[12]

The demand of the PEGIDA party is to review the laws on immigration, expel radical Islamists, the issues of emigration have not been discussed by people with radical views, and this is the merit of this movement. Many people do not want to associate themselves with radicals, so they do not attend such events, but they share some views on migration.[13]

The PEGIDA movement originated at a time when the issue of financial assistance to Southern Europe was being decided. At that time Germany was a country with the fastest growing population and a very developed system of social benefits.

In the movement itself, the growth in the number of refugees and immigrants provokes hostility and concern for stability within the country. Most of the participants in the PEGAS believe that the emigration of Muslims will lead to an increase in crime. Dangerous and violent, the phenomenon of PEGIDA movement will develop and take new forms.

Nevertheless, it is obvious that neo-Nazism and nationalism are gradually becoming part of the political reality of modern Germany. From how the right-centrist government of Merkel will solve this problem, it depends whether the largest power of Europe will escape the "right turn".[14]

The main difference between right-wing radicals is that they have never been a significant force in modern Germany. More than three decades of the presence of the extreme right in the political systems of Europe have demonstrated that this phenomenon is not an "ordinary pathology", where such parties exist as outcasts in the political system, and "pathological normality."

The basic ideas of the right-wing radicals in Germany are a simplistic, radical embodiment of views shared by large groups of people, sometimes even by an overwhelming majority. One of the reasons for the success is that the traditional forces have not learned to find answers to the questions that put the PDP in front of their constituents. Despite the fact that problems such as immigration, corruption, integration and crime are now widely discussed in all parliaments, the outputs offered by the main parties are spontaneous and superficial. This can lead to a short-term relief, and even a reduction in the support of the ultra-right, but does not solve the problem or alleviate the citizens' concerns.

The results of the public opinion poll in Germany show an obvious trend - more than 30% vote for the extreme right to introduce something new into the political system and because of dissatisfaction with the ruling coalition, and another 9% as a protest vote.[15]


Considering the right radical movements in the FRG, one can distinguish the following characteristic features: neo-racism, ethnocentrism combined with adherence to neoliberal principles, organicism and solidarity. All these features are surprising - and not only for the neighbors of Germany - since after the destruction of the Nazi regime there was a certainty that Germany would not return to this ideology. In addition, most right-wing radical movements are critical of the modern model of European integration, despite their participation in the elections to the European Parliament.

After the Second World War, the ultra-right movement was banned, and it was unlikely that there were even a few hundred people, with the exception of an unrepentant group of Nazis, ready to face the horrors of war again. Even though the parties of the "first wave" tried to hide behind more acceptable slogans, they either did not have any support and could not.

Since 1949 German right-wing party participated in elections in Germany, and then its followers - the Socialist Imperial Party. In local elections, the party received about 10% for several years, but in 1952 it was banned by the court, as neo-fascist. Then the period of economic growth began, the political system stabilized, and such parties seemed to have gone into oblivion.

Nevertheless, in Germany, despite the sad historical experience and prohibition, right radicalism was revived. This affected not only the complex of national defeat, but also the policy pursued in the country at that time.

At the moment in Germany, in addition to the illegal movements that go around the law - "Blood and Honor" and "German youth loyal to the Motherland", there are a number of other radical groups that are quite legally leading their activities: Combat 18, Hammerskins, , "Free Partnership", "KKK-Cross" and "Young National Democrats", who, as a rule, choose "direct action" and indirect lobbyism as tactics.

To date, one can observe a certain increase in the popularity of right-wing radical movements in the FRG. Not only such parties as the NPD, the Civil Society for Germany and the Republicans remain noteworthy, but new ones also appear.

In Germany, the PEGIDA movement ("Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West") is becoming increasingly popular, with the demonstration of 3,000 citizens. The slogans of the party are: "for the preservation of our culture," "against religious wars on German soil." Among the parties that are rapidly gaining popularity, the right-centrist party "Alternative for Germany" is also notable, having already won about 10% in the elections to the European Parliament in 2014 and has created its own youth movement.

Thus, it can be concluded that right-wing radical movements now have a certain influence on the political situation in the Federal Republic of Germany and on public opinion. More and more people in Germany express their readiness to partially support the ideas of right-wing radical movements, and also take them into account in elections. In the real political situation in modern Germany, this factor certainly does not have a significant political influence, although in publicism, public opinion and various democratic actions, these elements are constantly present, receiving a negative and even disparaging assessment.

Today, one can observe a trend of growing popularity of right-wing radical movements across Europe. More and more right-wing radical parties are becoming players in the political arena of European countries. Examples include the French National Front, the Hungarian Party Jobbik, the Slovenian National Party, etc. These parties play an important role not only in the political life of their countries, but also the entire European Union, as they are receiving more seats in the European Parliament.

As a result of the growing popularity of right-wing radical movements, which unite eurosceptics, the question is raised about the further development of the European Union. This issue is especially important for the locomotive of European integration - Germany, where the growth of right-wing radicalism is particularly surprising. The growing popularity of right-wing radicals casts doubt on the future not only of Germany, but of the entire European Union.


  1. Badaeva, A. Right-wing radical parties and immigration in Scandinavian countries // World Economy and International Relations, No. 12, December 2012, pp. 78-86.
  2. Das AfD Parteiprogramm,
  3. Das CDU Grundsatzprogramm,
  4. Das PEGIDA Programm,
  5. Die Ergebnisse der Landtagswahlen in Sachsen von 1990 bis 2014,
  6. Hennig S. Pegida: Spaziergänge über den Horizont. Eine Chronik // Arnschaugk, 2015, S. 45
  7. Pogorelskaya C.B. Germany and multiculturalism // Actual problems of Europe: Sat. sci. tr / Institute of Scientific. inform. on societies, sciences. M.: Izd-vo INION RAS. - 2011. - No. 4. P. 79-117.
  8. Results of the 2014 European by national party in Germany, elections
  9. Results of the 2014 European by national party in Germany, elections
  10. RIA 03/03/2015 Under the auspices of PEGIDA: Right in Germany and Austria //
  11. Schneider E. Multiculturalism in Germany // Russia and the Muslim World. - 2012. - No. 11 (245). - P. 166.
  12. Stimmenanteile der AfD bei den jeweils letzten Landtagswahlen in den Bundesländern bis März 2017,
  13.   Umfrage zu den Motiven der Wähler von Piratenpartei und AfD,
  14. Wählerwanderung zu der AfD bei der bei der Bundestagswahl am 22. September 2013,

[1] Badaeva, A. Right-wing radical parties and immigration in Scandinavian countries // World Economy and International Relations, No. 12, December 2012, pp. 78-86.

[2] Schneider E. Multiculturalism in Germany // Russia and the Muslim World. - 2012. - No. 11 (245). - P. 166.

[3] Das CDU Grundsatzprogramm,

[4] Pogorelskaya C.B. Germany and multiculturalism // Actual problems of Europe: Sat. sci. tr / Institute of Scientific. inform. on societies, sciences. M.: Izd-vo INION RAS. - 2011. - No. 4. P. 79-117.

[5] Results of the 2014 European by national party in Germany, elections

[6] Stimmenanteile der AfD bei den jeweils letzten Landtagswahlen in den Bundesländern bis März 2017,

[7] Wählerwanderung zu der AfD bei der bei der Bundestagswahl am 22. September 2013,

[8] Results of the 2014 European by national party in Germany, elections

[11] Das PEGIDA Programm,

[12]  Hennig S. Pegida: Spaziergänge über den Horizont. Eine Chronik // Arnschaugk, 2015, S. 45

[13]  Das PEGIDA Programm,

[14] RIA 03/03/2015 Under the auspices of PEGIDA: Right in Germany and Austria //