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Primary Discipline

Social Sciences


The Alternative for Germany party (AfD) has experienced a remarkably fast rise to state, federal, and European electoral success and has disrupted German politics. This paper investigates how the AfD achieved popularity in 2013 and 2014 and later became the first far-right German party since the Nazi Party to be represented in the Bundestag. I find that eastern Germany’s aging population and deficient economy engendered contempt for Angela Merkel and the Bundestag that transformed to euroscepticism when Germany committed to taxpayer bailouts of Greece during the eurozone debt crisis while ignoring domestic economic inequality. As such, the AfD’s single-issue platform of abolishing the euro resonated with these older, economically marginalized eastern German citizens who felt neglected by the German federal government and excluded from the benefits of the single currency. The findings of this paper, combined with the projected continuation of the trends that enabled the AfD’s rise, suggest that the far-right party will continue to erode the majority of the Union and will compel the Bundestag to reconsider its domestic economic priorities.