Photo Gallery: The Rightward Slide of the AfD

Foto: Hermann Bredehorst/ DER SPIEGEL

Alternative for Democracy The AfD's Ongoing Slide toward Right-Wing Extremism

In recent state elections, the right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany won almost a quarter of the votes. It was primarily radical candidates from the right-wing fringe who emerged triumphant. The party is continuing its slide into extremism. By DER SPIEGEL Staff

Michael Hanko, a tile setter by trade, is a prime example. Several years ago, he set up the neo-Nazi meeting point known as "Bunker 38," where Adolf Hitler's birthday on April 20 was even celebrated on occasion. These days? Hanko is a newly elected representative in the state parliament of Brandenburg, elected with 35.8 percent of the votes. His party? Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Electrician Norbert Mayer is another one. He founded the "Liberal Patriotic Alternative," a group which even the AfD in 2017 deemed too radical. It ended up on the right-wing populist party's list of organizations it wasn't willing to cooperate with. Mayer says things like: "There was a reason Europe defended itself against the Turks in 1529 and 1683." He is now a state representative for the AfD in Saxony, with the party having won 32.3 percent in his electoral district.

And then there is the lawyer Lena Duggen. She used to be active in the Islamophobic party "Freedom," whose Bavarian state chapter was under observation by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany's domestic intelligence service. She has issued warnings about a generation of "beheader-children" and sees Germany as being in the "chokehold of young Muslim men." She now sits in the Brandenburg state parliament for the AfD, the party having won 18 percent in her district.

The trio represents just three lawmakers belonging to a party that claims to be b ürgerlich, a term that denotes both representation of the middle-class and adherence to democratic and social norms. It would, though, be hard to argue that the three fall into that category. Just as it would be difficult to argue that the trio of lawmakers represent some kind of exception within the party. Indeed, in the eastern German AfD of late-summer 2019, they are more the rule.

Most of the AfD politicians who were voted into the state parliaments of Brandenburg and Saxony on September 1 are adherents of the "Flügel," the extremist wing of the AfD that has attracted the attention of the BfV because of its ethnic racism and nationalism. And because the Flügel is considered to be potentially hostile to the German constitution. All of those traits are likewise prevalent among leaders of the AfD chapters in the two states.

In Saxony, the AfD is led by Jörg Urban, a man who, according to the BfV, once said: "We will bring down this regime, too, with the help of reasonable people." In Brandenburg, meanwhile, the party's leader is Andreas Kalbitz, a man who has spent over half of his life in right-wing extremist circles.

What Society Considers Normal

The party's electoral success in the Brandenburg and Saxony state elections on September 1 marked the end of a decades-long taboo which held that any party publicly associated with right-wing extremism could not be allowed to play a significant role in German parliamentary democracy. But in Saxony, the AfD received 27.5 percent of votes. In Brandenburg it was 23.7 percent. Only a few percentage points separated them from attaining their goal of being the biggest parties in their respective states.

It was a good sign for democracy that Saxony Governor Michael Kretschmer, of the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU), and Brandenburg Governor Dietmar Woidke, of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), were able to retain their positions. But it was a bad sign that a radicalized AfD won one quarter of all votes.

What society considers normal and what it does not is the product of a constant negotiation. Now, after several years of that process, radical has become the new normal. Wilhelm Heitmeyer, the founding director of the Bielefeld Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence, spoke years ago of the emergence of a kind of civic coarseness -- the interplay of a respectable-looking façade with ruthless rhetoric and aggressively authoritarian tendencies. It is a process that has produced someone like Alexander Gauland, the AfD's national spokesman. In 2018, Gauland, whose appearance makes him look solidly bürgerlich, famously played down the Nazi era as being nothing but "a spot of bird shit on German history." He also argues, though, that the term bürgerlich "also stands for, among other things, the protection of property, the protection of personal freedoms and lifestyle, but also to the rejection of revolutionary upheaval." Gauland, of course, wasn't speaking of his own party, but was instead referring to what he calls the "eco-dictatorship" of the Green Party. The AfD, he said, was "self-evidently bürgerlich."

Other right-wing extremist parties have sent delegates to German state parliaments in the past, including such overtly neo-Nazi parties as the NPD and the Republicans. But never has there been a discussion as to whether they had roots in the center of Germany's civic society -- whether they were bürgerlich. Never before has one heard voices from the true center of German society calling for the inclusion of the radicals in a coalition government. These days, though, such voices exist -- rare, to be sure, but they must be taken seriously. They represent a challenge to German society to finally answer the question: How should the country deal with a party that is becoming ever bigger and more extreme, but which has also put down roots in the middle of the country's parliamentary democracy. And: How can the party's voters be won back?

Thorny Questions

On election night, the presenter on a public television station set off an intense debate when she described the AfD as bürgerlich. And it was a debate, still ongoing, that addresses several thorny questions. Given the party's growth, particularly in eastern Germany, is it time to treat it differently than before? Because of that success, is it time to accept the party as a legitimate voice in the shaping of German politics? Or should that possibility be excluded for a party that doesn't even try to hide its roots in the neo-Nazi scene?

It is August 21, just a few days before the election, and the central square in the town of Luckau is full. They are here to see Christoph Berndt, the AfD candidate for Brandenburg parliament in the district.

The audience is mixed, including lots of older men, not so many women and a couple of youths. Interspersed in the audience are also several muscular men with tattooed arms and T-shirts bearing words like: "Division Spreewald," "H8" (code for "Heil Hitler"), or "In grandpa's time things were still fine," accompanied by an image of Hitler's Nuremberg Rally of 1934. One man has a tattoo of the name "Jason," with the "s" written as it is in the SS logo.

They are all here to see Berndt, who has said that "the street and the parliament" cannot stand in opposition to one another when it comes the AfD. He is the founder of "Future Homeland," a group which acts as a kind of link to the right-wing extremists. The Brandenburg state offshoot of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution says the group has "organizational and personnel overlap" with the right-wing extremist Identitarian Movement (IB). On September 1, Berndt won in his district with 28.9 percent of the vote.

One of the best-known faces of the radical wing of the AfD is Andreas Kalbitz, head of the Brandenburg branch of the party. They call him "little Himmler," which might also have to do with the fact that he spent half his life in the extremist right-wing scene, including membership in a group that has since been banned. He also used to write for an extremist publication and he once worked on two screenplays that glorified both Hitler and the 1st Mountain Division, a unit of the Wehrmacht in World War II that was involved in numerous large-scale war crimes.

All of that was before he joined the AfD, which he did just a few weeks after it was founded in 2013. Two years later, he took over the chairmanship of an association on whose board were a number of members of the neo-Nazi NPD party. Kalbitz never spoke about such ties of his own free will and only admitted them after journalists dug into his past and he was left with no other option.

Kalbitz spent the election campaign driving around in a BMW X5 and was always accompanied by bodyguards, impressing his listeners with rustic diatribes. He described anti-climate change activist Greta Thunberg as a "small, moon-faced girl" and was similarly contemptuous of those who participated in Fridays for Future protests.

Kalbitz continues to maintain contact with the far-right today, including the Identitarian Movement. Some of his staff come directly or tangentially from the movement and he has close ties to the ethnocentric icon of the New Right, Götz Kubitschek. On election night, he thanked the Identitarian Movement's financing association for supporting him during the campaign.

Good Enough for Gauland

So far, Kalbitz hasn't been hurt by his right-wing extremist connections. Before the election, journalists discovered that he had participated in a neo-Nazi march in Athens in 2007 along with 13 German right-wing extremists, including the head of the NPD at the time and other functionaries. On the night of that demonstration, the group hung a swastika flag from their hotel balcony, according to a dispatch by the German Embassy in Athens. Kalbitz has confirmed that he was present at the march in Athens but claims not to have been on the balcony. He said that he later concluded that he didn't like the event and said that he has never been a member of the NPD and had no personal connections with it.

Kalbitz's explanation was enough for Gauland. Indeed, after the election, Gauland said that the AfD was the "largest bürgerlich opposition party" and Kalbitz was "just as bürgerlich as I am."

Gauland is granting himself the bürgerlich seal-of-approval just as the concept seems to be growing obsolete. The postwar political constellation, a time when the CDU, the SPD and the pro-business FDP were the pillars of West Germany's three-party system, later gave way to a four-party fields. After reunification, it morphed into a collection of five, or even six parties. That shift, in fact, is one key reason for the AfD's success.

These days, the concept of a big-tent party is little more than an artefact of a seemingly sensible postwar idea. Following the Nazi dictatorship, West Germany sought to ensure that its politics would take place within the framework of a liberal-democratic order. Voters on the right-wing fringe felt themselves to be well represented by the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, while the SPD was able to tether the radical left wing. Although there were occasional extreme outliers on the far left and far right, they remained -- in contrast to today -- largely irrelevant.

The parties themselves defined the democratic spectrum, which theoretically remains the case today.

It's reminiscent of an analogy conceived by German author Hans Magnus Enzensberger about immigration. He described a railway compartment where the most recent arrivals are consistently eyed with suspicion -- until they themselves are no longer the newcomer. Will the same hold true for the AfD? Or can new movements only be integrated if they come from the left side of the spectrum?

When the Greens began sending delegates to the first state parliaments in the 1980s, they were depicted by the SPD, the CDU and several media outlets as chaotic political incompetents who posed a threat to Western culture. Later, the Left Party was also smeared for its (partial) roots in the East German communist party.

Every system seeks to defend itself when called into question. But the German system has some peculiarities: When the attack comes from the left, it is mostly the parties on the right of the political spectrum that react angrily. But if the attack comes from the right, as is the case with the AfD, the broadest possible coalition, from the left to relatively far on the right, pushes back.


As a result the AfD -- especially the extremist, völkisch wing -- is forcing the other parties into assembling unusual coalitions that neither the parties nor the voters actually want. An example of that can be seen in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, where the CDU, SPD and Greens have been governing together for the last three years. The constellation is known in Germany as a "Kenya coalition," because the colors associated with the parties recall the Kenyan flag. And nobody is particularly excited by it.


The article you are reading originally appeared in German in issue 37/2019 (September 7th, 2019) of DER SPIEGEL.

Because the parties rarely agree, everything must be carefully written down in the coalition agreement -- and there is little room for projects not included in that agreement. Stagnation is the result.

The Kenya alliance in the state, says Sebastian Streigel, the Green Party spokesman in Saxony-Anhalt, is purely an "alliance of stewardship that rests on the shared belief that a right-wing, völkisch party should not be allowed to participate in power."

Indeed, the consensus that the AfD should under no circumstances be allowed to be part of a government is a broad one. Berlin historian Per Leo, author of a book called "Mit Rechten Reden" (Talking to Right-Wingers), sees this as the core of the debate about whether the AfD is bürgerlich or not. "What is being discussed when we talk about this term is whether the AfD should be included in a coalition or not." Bürgerlich, Leo says, means non-extremist, it stands for centrism, moderation and the ability to compromise. For this reason, he argues, the AfD should not be described as "bürgerlich," just as they shouldn't be described as "conservative."

When it was founded in 2013 by Bernd Lucke, of course, the AfD did have solid centrist roots. It was essentially a group of economist eggheads (hence the early nickname "party of professors") who wanted Germany out of the single currency. But on March 13 of that year, in the first month of the new party's existence, Götz Kubitschek wrote a blog post that is helpful for understanding how the right-wing extremist, völkisch members of the AfD have successfully built up a solid power base in the party.

Kubitschek wrote that the most important thing is that the early AfD found a "door-opening issue" with the euro. He then wrote: "Our issues (identity, resistance and the criticism of gender, parties and ideology) can rush in as well if we quickly and consequently put our foot in the door."

The Rise of the Radicals

Kubitschek was essentially describing an early plan for a hostile takeover. As such, it is no accident that a völkisch politician like Kalbitz joined the AfD only a few months after it was founded, membership number 573. After Gauland, he is now the most powerful politician in the party.

Kubitschek wasn't concerned that the early AfD, which was quite bürgerlich under Lucke's leadership, strongly resisted the influence of the right-wing ideologues: "Let them do it. Let them distance themselves from us a bit if it helps to establish the party in the center initially. The people, the party foot soldiers, already want much more than that. And this time, they will get it."

Six years later, Kubitschek's words have proven prophetic. The party's critical stance on the euro is no longer much of an AfD focus, with the party instead prioritizing identity, nationalism, an authoritarian understanding of the state and an exclusionary approach to society. The extremist wing has taken over control of the party's agenda.

Kubitschek was also the one who suggested to his longtime friend, the history teacher Björn Höcke, that he should publish a manifesto with his ideas and positions about the AfD so that everyone who agreed could sign on. The result was the "Erfurt Resolution," presented in spring 2015, and it represented the birth of the Flügel. Höcke attracted thousands of signatories in a short period of time.

Although the Flügel is currently only a loose association without an organizational structure or state groups, the resolution means that Höcke knows exactly who his friends are in the party -- and who he cannot count on. While Höcke is the face of the Flügel, and the one who holds the speeches full of tremolo and pathos, Kalbitz is the one who makes things happen. He has confidantes around the country who tell him whenever something is going on somewhere. He is constantly making calls and sending text messages, making sure that Flügel adherents attend party congresses and events where delegates are chosen. Party members say he also orchestrates concrete deals as to who gets which spot on the party lists. Those who fall afoul of the Flügel slide down the ranking or may not get a spot on the list at all.

'Not Going to Give Up'

As a result, most in the party seek to avoid antagonizing the Flügel, with many choosing to leave the party altogether rather than to spend their time battling the radicals. Or they submit -- "conciliatory professionals," as Kubitschek calls them.

In July, Georg Pazderski, deputy head of the AfD and head of the Berlin chapter, put his name on a list of 100 AfD members warning against a Höcke takeover of the party. Then, on election night, he showed up at the AfD party in the city of Werder in Brandenburg, where Höcke and Kalbitz were holding court. Pazderski is doing that what many critics of the Flügel are currently doing: keeping a low profile and trying to claim the electoral gains in eastern Germany for the entire AfD. "The success is strengthening the overall party," says Pazderski. "Our platform was confirmed by the voters. The entire party in all states is behind it."

There are also, however, members like Helmut Seifen. An AfD member of parliament in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Seifen joined the party during the Bernd Lucke period. He is doggedly fighting against the far-right wing in his state group. "You need a certain toughness in politics. I'm not going to give up easily."

This summer, Seifen and his allies even brought down the party's leader in the state. There will soon be a vote to determine a successor, and once that happens, the former high school teacher is convinced, the right-wing camp will be marginalized at the top of the state chapter. "I hope that even the moderate Flügel people among us understand that when people from our party repeatedly invoke symbols from the darkest period in German history, we can't be surprised when we are attacked and disparaged as the resurrection of the Nazis."

But rebels like Seifen are the exceptions. In Brandenburg and Saxony, at least, voters rallied behind the Flügel candidates. But who were those voters? And what were they voting for?

One of the AfD's strongholds can be found deep in southern Brandenburg in a small town called Heinersbrück. Fully 50.5 percent of voters in the town cast their ballots for the party in the state election. One of them is Andrea Lange. The 50-year-old works in senior care and says she hasn't always voted for the AfD, but a few years ago, something changed. "The refugees, as they call them. That's simply not OK," she says. Although nothing has ever happened in her hometown, she says she has heard dramatic stories from places like Cottbus and Berlin.

But that's not all, she says. For decades, there have been promises that a new bike path would be built in the town. "But it simply isn't being built!" she says, complaining that she would like to commute to work by bicycle. So she's voting for the AfD because the party will ensure that new bike paths will be built? No, Lange explains, she is voting for the party so that "those up there think about what they are doing wrong."

Overall Lack of Trust

At lot of attempts have been made in the past few weeks to explain why the AfD is so much stronger in the east than in the west. The power of protest, the shock of reunification, unequal work conditions, the emigration of the younger generation with all of its consequences, the smaller number of supermarkets, daycare facilities and medical practices, the feeling of having been left behind, the insult of being seen by western Germans as backwards, the feeling of being losers in the process of modernization.

Even 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, these feelings of exasperation and rage are still unfurling. Holger Lengfeld, a professor of sociology from Leipzig, says that in the context of this overall lack of trust, the AfD is the only party that still represents values that "nobody else is offering in the political marketplace." He says that "many positions once held by West German conservatism, positions that are no longer considered legitimate in society at large, can now be found in the AfD."

The Fl ügel's triumphant march through the AfD isn't just confined to the east. Its followers also make up between one third and half of all committee members in the west. And they definitely have enough power to spread chaos.

Thomas Jürgewitz leads the way to the back of a café in the city center of Bremerhaven. A balding, bearded man in a black suitcoat and blue jeans, the AfD politician says that visitors are currently unwelcome at his party's office.

For two and a half months, Jürgewitz was the head of his party's parliamentary group in the Bremen city-state parliament. Earlier this month, though, three of the five AfD lawmakers broke with the parliamentary group. Since then, Bremen has been the only German state with a parliament that does not have an AfD parliamentary group. As a result, the party is missing out on subsidies worth 50,000 euros per month.

The self-demolition is the result of a power struggle between Jürgewitz and state AfD head Frank Magnitz, who is linked closely with the radical Flügel and who is a lawmaker in both the Bremen city-state parliament and in the Bundestag in Berlin.

The conflict in the smallest German state is symbolic of the AfD's behavior in western German states: There are power struggles everywhere and mutual animosity has resulted in stasis in many places. The rhetoric employed in these clashes is of the kind that the AfD otherwise reserves for its political opponents.

Bavaria presents another example, where AfD floor leader Markus Plenk turned his back on both the parliamentary group and the party. He says he no longer wanted to provide an extremist party with a bürgerlich façade. He has said that he would now like to join the CSU, but the center-right Bavarian party hasn't yet indicated that they want to have him.

Divided AfD

The AfD in Bavarian parliament is deeply divided, with one group of lawmakers throwing their support behind the radical floor leader Katrin Ebner-Steiner. That tendency stands in direct contrast to the AfD's campaign ahead of 2018 state elections when it presented itself as the state's true conservative party and expressly sought to pick off CSU voters -- a strategy that worked quite well.

Since then, though, the AfD has primarily drawn attention to itself through a series of provocations. Earlier this year, a significant portion of the AfD parliamentary group walked out of the plenary hall when Charlotte Knobloch, a Holocaust survivor and the head of the Jewish community in Munich and Upper Bavaria, criticized the AfD.

In the neighboring state of Baden-Württemberg, the AfD is similarly divided. Bernd Gögel, who heads up the AfD in both the state and on the parliament floor, leads a rather moderate group and could imagine forming a coalition with the CDU in the not-too-distant future. But radicals, like state parliamentarian Stefan Räpple, are against any form of cooperation. A pastry chef by training, Räpple has primarily attracted attention for his course, insulting language. On one occasion, he was even led out of the plenary hall by police. One of his demands is that state benefits only be paid to Germans. For months, the AfD has been seeking to eject him from the party.

In Schleswig-Holstein, meanwhile, Doris Fürstin von Sayn-Wittgenstein, who was head of the state's AfD chapter until earlier this month, sees herself as a victim of the party's national leadership. Because of her close ties to a right-wing extremist association, she was unceremoniously thrown out of the party. Sayn-Wittgenstein, who can often be seen in a bright red blazer and pearls, was solidly rooted in the party's völkisch wing. AfD lawmakers in the state aren't sad to see her go, but AfD leaders in the state regret her expulsion.

Such mixed feelings are not a feature of the AfD in the eastern state of Thuringia, where elections are set for Oct. 27. The party there is anything but bürgerlich, with the Thuringian AfD identified almost exclusively with the extremist Björn Höcke. The Jena-based sociologist and expert for right-wing extremism Matthias Quent recently wrote a book in which he analyzed the direction in which Höcke is seeking to steer the party, both in Thuringia and in Germany at large. Quent points to a Höcke quote in which he talks about the "intellectual refinement of the 'raw' form of citizen protest." The stated goal, says Quent, "is to integrate the easily mobilized masses -- primarily made up of right-wing radicals and neo-Nazis -- into a long-term strategy."

The sociologist warns of "right-wing extremist strategies to grab for power." Quent lists an unending number of Höcke quotes that completely destroy the illusion of bürgerlichkeit. For example, the AfD politician has blamed the "refugee invasion" for the aggressiveness of his own followers, because if nothing is done, Germans are faced with "the death of their race" through "Africanization, orientalization and Islamization."

And then, of course, there is the notorious speech he gave in Dresden's glittering Watzke Brewery a couple of years ago. Speaking in a cadence reminiscent of the 1930s, he said: "I point this party on a long path full of privation, but it is the only path to complete victory, and this country needs a complete victory of the AfD."

Tentative Uprising

There were some within the Thuringia AfD who were not supportive of Höcke's vision, but most of them have since left the party. Others remain in parliament, but do not belong to the AfD parliamentary group.

One of them is Siegfried Gentele. When asked about the AfD these days, his immediate response is: "Heil Hitler!" In 2015, Gentele co-founded an internal party group called Wakeup Call, which was to prevent the AfD from drifting too far to the right. Not long later, he was thrown out of the party and then excluded from the parliamentary group. "Everything that stands in the way of Höcke has been eliminated," Gentele says.

Just last year, there was a tentative uprising of the last remaining dissidents, with the Alternative Center, a moderate group within the AfD, challenging Höcke. A short time later, there was a flood of warnings and efforts to throw people out of the party. Many were blocked from campaigning for office and those who did not agree with Höcke were bullied.

Following Höcke's offensive against the centrists, a spokesman for the Alternative Center posted a statement on the internet. Höcke, it read, "is increasingly looking like a megalomaniac." It continued: "A Höcke-controlled AfD would be a right-wing extremist party."

That assessment is consistent with that of the German domestic intelligence agency BfV, which has been keeping a close eye on the Flügel since January. "The political concept represented by the 'Flügel' is primarily focused on the exclusion of, derision of and denial of legal protections for foreigners, migrants -- especially Muslims -- and those who hold different political views," the agency wrote in justifying it's step. "It violates all elements of the liberal, democratic order, the guarantee of human dignity and the principles of democracy and rule of law. The relativization of historical National Socialism is likewise characteristic of statements from 'Flügel' representatives."

In May, Höcke attended a meeting of the party's youth chapter in Munich. In his speech, as noted by the Bavarian chapter of the BfV, he "vilified" Germany as a "perverse" country in addition to claiming that the existence of the German people is threatened by immigrants. "We are waging an all-or-nothing battle, we are fighting the battle as Germans and as Europeans for our very existence," he said.

Anti-Semitic Codewords

On the previous evening, the southern-German offshoot of the Flügel had met in the Bavarian town of Greding, an event attended by right-wing extremists from the Identitarian Movement and the virulently Islamophobic movement PEGIDA. As the event closed, the banned first verse of the German anthem was played: "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles."

Höcke has begun openly using anti-Semitic codewords and phrases. He calls the EU an "agency of globalization" that is propogating the "demons" of George Soros, the American-Hungarian investor and philanthropist who comes from a Jewish family. Höcke calls Merkel a "Soros client." But the BfV has found that the influence of the AfD's völkisch wing hasn't just increased in the east, but also in the west.

Indeed, if the slide to the right continues, the BfV may ultimately have to place the entire party under observation. The AfD's party convention at the end of November could end up being decisive. Höcke has given notice on several occasions that he intends to expand his influence into the top echelons of the party. Should he be successful, the one-time euro-skeptic party of professors will have completed the transmogrification into a racist, anti-system party.

The means available to German institutions are one piece of the puzzle, society's response to an increasingly extreme AfD is the other. "Insulting the voters isn't helpful," says Thuringia Governor Bodo Ramelow of the Left Party. "We have to clearly demonstrate reliability to the voters and be authentic." The AfD, he says, only stands for indignation, "and for me, it is simply not enough to constantly show indignation with the AfD."

Holger Lengfeld, a sociology professor in Leipzig, says the other parties should spend less time focusing on the AfD and more time looking at what motivates its voters. Simply stigmatizing the party in public just makes its supporters even more disgruntled.

The Berlin historian Per Leo says that ostracization can be appropriate in some cases, though not all. But a desire to understand the other is helpful in all cases. Not to try to curry favor with them, but to understand two things: Where are their weaknesses? And where is the small grain of truth that allows them to gain a following?

Most experts agree that simply vilifying AfD voters is as useless as trying to reach them with reasonable arguments. The focus should be on figuring out why they vote for the AfD and then trying to find answers to those problems.

But calling them bürgerlich would be inaccurate. Doing so would help the AfD transport the message that feelings such as xenophobia are acceptable. And it would assist the party in its quest to become a big-tent party. It is, after all, a strategy seen before in German history. It was the strategy followed by the National Socialists.

By Melanie Amann, Matthias Bartsch, Maik Baumgärtner, Felix Bohr, Annette Bruhns, Ullrich Fichtner, Jan Friedmann, Sophie Madeleine Garbe, Florian Gathmann, Hubert Gude, Valerie Höhne, Martin Knobbe, Tim Kummert, Timo Lehmann, Ann-Katrin Müller, Ralf Neukirch, Dietmar Pieper, Milena Pieper, Anna Reimann, Katja Thimm, Markus Verbeet, Andreas Wassermann, Severin Weiland, Alfred Weinzierl, Wolf Wiedmann-Schmidt and Steffen Winter

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