“Someday it will fall on one’s feet”

Dr. Andreas Puttmann © private

How much longer side by side? Jorg Meuthen and Frauke Petry © Marijan Murat

Chaos in Baden-Wuerttemberg’s AfD: Party leader Jorg Meuthen has formed a new parliamentary group – and is putting prere on party leader Frauke Petry. Where is the AfD heading? An assessment by political scientist Andreas Puttmann.

Interviewer: A faction splits, something that has never happened before in this form in Germany. On a very basic level, what does this mean for the state parliament in Baden-Wurttemberg?? What happens now?

Andreas Puttmann (political scientist and journalist): The opposition leader now comes again from the SPD, the third strongest parliamentary group. And the FDP is now no longer the smallest faction. This has some consequences z.B. on the right to speak. The two AfD groups will now compete for recognition by the federal AfD as their legitimate organization in the state parliament of Baden-Wurttemberg. Meuthen has the better cards for the time being. This could put Frauke Petry under further prere as party leader.
Interviewer: Now the party leadership should actually go and say: Right-wing ideas are absolutely not welcome with us. One looks for such clear statements however rather in vain there.
Puttmann: Because one would like to direct the votes of the right to one’s own mills, but does not want to be right-wing oneself. This is the design flaw of the AfD. This is the first time in the history of the Federal Republic that conservatives are making common cause with right-wing radicals in a single party. That’s also what’s troubling. There have been some right-wing parties with electoral success in the past. But there hasn’t been this overlap of conservatives and right-wingers yet. According to a study by the University of Leipzig, about half of AfD voters have a chauvinistic or xenophobic attitude. 17 percent have an anti-Semitic attitude. Meuthen is now experiencing that as a conservative or right-wing liberal, it is hard to make common cause with right-wing radicals. At some point it falls on your feet.
Interviewer: Is there also potential for overlap with church-affiliated circles?
Puttmann: We have professing Christians in the party leadership, for example Meuthen, Petry and von Storch. There is also a group "Christians in the AfD". There are intersections if one understands Christianity mainly as an ideology of order, as an identity marker. So where the right-wing conservative, which is always very order-fixated, overarches the Christian. In general, Christians close to the church vote below average for AfD. But there is also a small group of practicing Christians who are trying to prevent the so-called gender mania or the Islamization of Germany and are making common cause with right-wingers in politics to this end. But they are not representative of Christians.
Interviewer: How much protest is in the AfD voters and how much is really conviction?
Puttmann: AfD voters in Baden-Wurttemberg were asked about their motivations. Only 21 percent were convinced of the party’s content. 70 percent cited disappointment with other parties as the reason for their voting behavior. Among voters of other parties, the ratio is exactly the opposite. So we are dealing with a predominant proportion of protest voters. Even half of AfD voters testified that the AfD does not sufficiently distance itself from radical right-wing positions. Nevertheless, they voted for the party.

The interview was conducted by Uta Vorbrodt.

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