Right Wing Populists Try to Fill a Gap
In a Q&A with Der Tagesspeigel, GMF's Timo Lockocki begins by arguing that EU level policies, or the lack thereof, in relation to questions of immigration policy and asylum quotas are less instrumental in impacting the voters’ decisions to potentially vote for right wing populist parties than the policies that are formulated by national governments which decide how much welfare is provided to migrants and where they will be housed, etc.
Lochocki states that right wing populist parties succeed when established conservative parties fail to follow through on their promises, giving the example of the CDU proclaiming itself unwilling to bailout Greece, and then ‘softening’ and choosing to stop Grexit from occurring. He claims that this created a platform on which the AfD were able to establish themselves, and that if Germany had recently decided to allow Grexit to occur, the AfD and the new party of Bernd Lucke, ALFA, would be struggling to retain what following they currently have, since they would have lost their unique selling point as parties taking a hard line approach to Greece.
Lochocki explains the role of social democratic parties as one that poses a risk for future political debate – if social democratic parties do not coordinate with established conservative parties to ensure migration policies are kept off the agenda at election time, they face the prospect of winning on a liberal ticket and then assisting with the rise of right wing populist parties who then have a platform on which to stand, given the failure of conservative parties to properly combat liberal immigration policies.
Lochocki states that social democratic parties across Western Europe have significantly improved their chances of winning elections in the medium term when they have refrained from campaigning on loaded, polemical, attention-grabbing policies that create conflicts over immigration policy.
To end the article, Timo states that the AfD will need to swim clear of its murky, extreme-right associations, and will have to focus attention on questions of migration and asylum policies, in order to recover in the polls, given the loss of Lucke, who was the face of the Eurosceptic side of the AfD movement.