Monday, September 25, 2017

The Rise of the Far Right in East Germany

Angela Merkel has won her fourth term as German Chanvellor. However the biggest news of this German election has to be the rise of the far right AfD party. It appears that both the centre-right CDU and centre-left Social Democrats lost voters to the controversial AfD. Despite retaining power in a coalition government Merkel's CDU party achieved their worst results since 1949. The Social Democrats also had their poorest results since 1945.

The AfD however has made huge inroads since the last German election. The Berliner Morgenpost's 2017 Wahlkarte interactive map provides a useful guide as to where the AfD has gained the most votes. If you select the 'Shift to the right' option you can view a choropleth view of the AfD's vote share in each constituency. This reveals that the AfD is most popular in constituencies in the former East Germany. On average it appears that the party polled at least 10-20% more votes in nearly every former East German constituency than they did in constituencies in the former West Germany.

The Financial Times has mapped where each of Germany's political parties have gained and lost votes in the country. This map shows how the AfD picked up votes across the whole country. It also reinforces the fact that it was far more popular in the former East Germany. The FT map also shows that the CDU and SPD lost popularity across the whole of Germany.

The rise of the AfD is being seen as a populist reaction against Germany's acceptance of refugees. These maps hint that the underlying cause of this anti-refugee sentiment might be tied to income inequality. It certainly appears that the less economically secure former East German constituencies were more receptive to the AfD's anti-refugee message than the more economically secure constituencies in the west of the country.

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