The AfD has been raging for weeks. For the German opposition party, the policies of the federal government have not only failed, but also posed a threat to peace and prosperity. The party relies on confrontation in practically all policy areas: In the Ukraine war, it calls for peace negotiations instead of arms deliveries. In migration policy, she calls for “closed borders” instead of recruiting skilled workers.
Above all, however, the right-wing party is currently presenting itself as an aggressive opponent in energy and climate policy. The parliamentary group leader of the AfD in the German Bundestag, Alice Weidel, calls the measures of the federal government with green participation a “impoverishment program”. For her, the plans to convert residential heating systems to renewable energies are nothing less than a “heating massacre”: “People who can no longer afford it will have to sell their houses,” she explained at a press conference.
Emotions more important than facts
Christoph Richter from the Institute for Democracy and Civil Society, IDZ, observed in Jena in its rejection of climate protection measures that the party outstripped many other European right-wing parties: “It doubts fundamental scientific findings on man-made climate change and therefore regards corresponding climate protection measures as pointless.” The IDZ is currently researching how right-wing populists and extremists in Europe and the USA are dealing with the ecological crisis.
Yes to coal and nuclear power – no to wind energy: the AfD largely rejects climate protection measures
The AfD’s own program for climate protection is manageable: yes to fossil energy and nuclear power – no to wind energy. The experts observe that the AfD relies more on emotions than on programmatic principles. “We see with the AfD that it “goes in” where the most reservations and fears lie among the population,” analyzes Christoph Richter. “It sounds, for example, in regional anti-wind power campaigns.”
The Greens have become the AfD’s favorite opponent. Their draft of a climate-friendly, cosmopolitan and diverse Germany serves as a blueprint for a doomsday scenario for the right-wing party: “The citizens are being expropriated!”, “They are destroying our prosperity!”, “Baerbock is acting criminally and insane!” – With such lurid slogans, the party fights against the Green Party around Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Economics Minister Robert Habeck, especially on social media. And apparently with success: opinion polls see the AfD as the strongest party in three eastern German states, where important state elections are due next year.
Enemy image of the Greens: The AfD aggressively polemicizes against the Green government politicians Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck
The electorate of the Greens and the right-wing AfD seem to be opposite poles in many policy areas. In April, for example, the opinion research institute Infratest Dimap observed that 76 percent of Green Party supporters are taking climate protection measures too slowly – while 50 percent of AfD supporters are taking them too quickly.
Christoph Richter from the Institute for Democracy and Civil Society sees the European right-wing united in their rejection of climate protection measures: “They are united in their interest in maintaining the existing unequal distribution between the industrialized nations and other countries, primarily those in the Global South, because the European industrialized nations are affected by this gap benefit.”
Political opponents as enemy images
Ever since it was founded, the AfD has relied on changing enemy images. After it was founded in 2013, its favorite opponents were the liberal Free Democrats, FDP, and their European debt policy. When the FDP was kicked out of the Bundestag in 2013, the jubilation in the AfD was boundless. Then the party targeted the Christian Democrats around their leader and Chancellor Angela Merkel. Their refugee policy brought the AfD to a boil and brought it great success, especially in the eastern federal states. Merkel is gone – now the AfD is relying on a new enemy: the Greens. The form of the attacks are nothing new for Christoph Richter: “We are familiar with the very aggressive attacks on climate and environmental protectionists from the USA in the 1980s. A strong counter-movement had formed there at the time.”
The fact that the right-wing party seems to be successful with its strategy is apparently due above all to the uncertainty of the other parties, observes Christoph Richter from the Institute for Democracy and Contemporary History in Jena: “The relevant success factor of the AfD campaigns is that their narratives actually also be taken up by mainstream society. That in turn is a very dangerous strategy that ultimately harms the established parties and climate protection.”