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‘Crime is out of hand’: how young people turned to far right in east German city

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the rise of support for the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party among young voters in Germany, particularly in the former East German state of Brandenburg. It explores the factors driving this trend, including concerns about the economy, immigration, crime, and the war in Ukraine.

🙋 Q&A

[01] The AfD's Surge Among Young Voters

1. What factors contributed to the AfD's gains among young voters in the European elections?

  • Fears of war spreading in Europe, inflation, economic decline, "unchecked" immigration, and violent crime
  • Dissatisfaction with the current government and a desire for change
  • The AfD's outreach efforts targeting the impact of anti-pandemic measures on young people, such as forced testing, home schooling, and bans on going out

2. What were some of the specific views and concerns expressed by young AfD supporters?

  • Support for "remigration" of Germans with immigrant roots who "fail to integrate"
  • Perceptions of increased crime and violence, especially in public spaces, committed by non-Germans
  • Feeling insulted and even spat on by "non-Germans"
  • Concerns about the war in Ukraine and Germany's involvement, with some criticizing weapons shipments and Nato expansion

3. How did the AfD's youth outreach strategy differ from that of other parties?

  • The AfD effectively utilized platforms like YouTube and TikTok to reach young voters, while the governing parties were seen as less engaging, with the chancellor posting "boring videos about his briefcase"
  • The AfD's state youth wing leader, Anna Leisten, claimed the party had experienced "exclusion, propaganda and intimidation" as a teenager in Brandenburg, which may have contributed to their appeal among young voters

[02] Reactions and Counterpoints

1. How did some young voters respond to the AfD's rise?

  • A 22-year-old office clerk, Lea, said the AfD and the new Sahra Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW) were the "only ones" addressing local security concerns, despite having "nothing against foreigners"
  • Noura Abu Agwa, a 24-year-old refugee from Damascus, felt increasingly unsafe in Brandenburg due to the strong presence of the far right, and experienced harassment for wearing a hijab
  • Henriette Vogel, a 21-year-old laboratory assistant, called the AfD's surge "scary" due to its "misogynist" positions on reproductive rights and workplace equality

2. How did some young voters try to persuade their peers or family members not to support the AfD?

  • Mathias Sarömba, a 22-year-old legal system trainee, managed to persuade his mother not to vote for the AfD after "tearful discussions" about the party's stance on "queer rights"
  • Henriette Vogel cast her ballot for the Animal Protection party to oppose the AfD, despite not being fully satisfied with the major parties

3. What do experts say about the potential for continued fragmentation of the youth vote?

  • Kilian Hampel, a co-author of the study "Youth in Germany," predicted that the trend toward fragmentation of the youth vote is likely to continue, with smaller parties potentially being the "big winners" as faith in the larger parties declines.
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