The Alternative for Germany (AfD). Analysis of a new right-wing populism

Master's Thesis, 2017

73 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Context: history and understanding of the AfD

3. Theoretical & analytical framework
3.1 CDA as ontology, theory and analytical tool
3.2 Social constructionism
3.3 Critical discourse analysis
3.4 Fairclough’s approach to critical discourse analysis
3.5 Representations
3.6 Theories of populism
3.7 Agenda-Setting

4. Literature review of previous research
4.1 Wodak’s analysis of right-wing populist discourse
4.2 Previous findings about the discourse of the AfD

5. Methodology, method and data selection
5.1 Why a social constructionist approach?
5.2 Study design: CDA as a methodological framework
5.2.1 Discursive practices:
5.2.2 Text
5.2.3 Sociocultural practice
5.3 Sample selection and corpus construction
5.4 Reflection on methodology & ethics

6. Research results & analysis
6.1 Level of discursive practice
6.1.1 Interdiscursivity: Discursive types and genres
6.1.2 Intertextuality
6.1.3 Presuppositions
6.2 Textual level of analysis
6.2.1 Themes identified
6.2.2 Transivity
6.2.3 Word meaning
6.2.4 Modality
6.2.5 Metaphors
6.2.6 Ethos
6.2.7 Discursive strategies in the text
6.3 Summarizing the analysis

7. Discussion

8. Conclusion

9. References

1st communicative event: Preamble of the party program
2nd communicative event: Bjorn Hocke’s speech on identity
3rd communicative event: Section of the party program on immigration
4th communicative event: Von Storch’s speech on integration
5th communicative event: Petry’s speech responding to accussations
6th communicative event: Interview with Gauland


The aim of this thesis is to examine how the political communication of the recently created German political party “Alternative for Germany” (“Alternative fur Deutschland” - AfD) can be understood as a form of right-wing populist discourse. The analysis seeks to gain knowledge in how their discourses challenge the established ones in Germany. The discourses of the AfD are then examined in their wider context in a discussion about their social implications in Germany and Europe.

The study design is devised following Fairclough's approach to critical discourse analysis, which acts both as an analytical and methodological framework. Under a social constructionist paradigm, the corpus of selected political messages is analyzed using a methodological toolbox that is based on Fairclough's work and looks after three levels of analysis: text, discursive practice and sociocultural practice. This framework is enhanced with the findings and theoretical considerations of Wodak's work on right-wing populist discourses. While the first two levels follow a constricted methodological guideline in order examine how the AfD discourses can be understood as right wing-populism and how they challenge established discourses, the last level opens a discussion about how they draw upon and reproduce broader ideological- discursive formations and social practices.

The findings of this study include, first, the corroboration that the AfD uses discourses that can be understood as right-wing populist discourses following the parameters established by Wodak and focusing on three concepts: the misdoing of the elite, the proud of the German nation and immigration as a problem. Second, it challenges the non-nationalist discourse in German political mainstream, with elements of historical revisionism. The AfD also challenges both the conservative and the social-democratic discourses through its anti-immigration discourse. Third, at the social level the discussion focuses on how the introduction of a right-wing populist network of discourse is problematic by considering the implications of challenging the political and media establishment, recovering nationalism and negatively representing immigrants as a problem.

1. Introduction

In a comment to her Facebook post about the possibility of shooting at refugees crossing the German border, a user asked the politician Beatrix von Storch if this would be applicable to children as well. “Yes”, she wrote as a reply (Heidbohmer, 2016). After very negative comments from other politicians and the German press about the incident, this politician of the Alternative fur Deutschland (“Alternative for Germany” or short “AfD”) defended herself saying that she had “slipped on the computer mouse” (ibid.).

The rise of the AfD has been seen by different observers as the arrival of nationalist, traditionalist, populist and anti-immigration ideas (Bebnowski, 2016; Neuerer, 2016; Kallenbrunnen, 2017) to broader, “moderate” sectors of society in Germany; but also as a return of ideologies that the German society thought it was immune to. As right- and far-right wing populist parties have become popular in several European countries such as Austria, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark and Hungary (Wodak & Majid, 2013, p. xviiii), it seems urgent to examine how the discourses used by this party can be understood in the German and European context.

The aim of this thesis is, first, to understand how the discourses used by this new party can be understood as right-wing populism in the textual level, focusing on the linguistic elements of selected political messages. Second, by analyzing the discursive practices the aim is to find out how this discourse possibly challenges established political discourses in Germany - and even connects with historical ones. Third, the political discourses of the AfD will be contextualized in the context of broader social practices, connecting them with wider societal phenomena.

This thesis will continue the work started in a previous methodological paper in which I tested critical discourse analysis as a method for analyzing political messages of the AfD (Alvarez Moreno, 2017). Some of the reflections - the sections referring to social constructionism, representations and some parts of the methodology - will draw upon that work.

From a social constructionist approach (Berger & Luckmann, 1966) the critical approach of critical discourse analysis will be applied, based on Norman Fairclough’s (1992; 1995) work and considering the rich contributions made by Ruth Wodak (2001; 2015) on her effort to better understand far-right populist parties in Europe. The corpus of this qualitative research consists of six “communicative events” - political messages in the form of written text or a speech.

Based on Fairclough’s three-dimensional framework for Critical Discourse Analysis, enhanced with Wodak’s strategies of discourse, this thesis aims to answer the following three research questions:

(a) How can we understand the political discourse of the AfD as right-wing populism?
(b) How does the AfD challenge mainstream political discourses in Germany?
(c) How do these discourses draw upon and reproduce broader ideological- discursive formations and social practices in Germany and Europe?

The research path for answering these questions requires reflections on the socio­political context (chapter 2), followed by the critical presentation of the theoretical framework that sustains the research (chapter 3), the literature review of previous findings in the field related to the research topic (chapter 4) and the methodological aspects of the thesis (chapter 5). After that, the findings of my research will be presented in the form of results and analysis - answering the research questions (a) and (b) - and opening a discussion (chapter 7) that focuses on research question (c). A summary of the work can be found in chapter 8.

2. Context: history and understanding of the AfD

In this chapter the German political context will be explained, showing how, despite the preexisting political barriers, the AfD has achieved growing electoral success, with the refugee crisis as a trigger for the party. After that, the political positions of the party and its internal disputes will be explained.

Political barriers for right- and right-wing parties in Germany

Since the first German Federal election after the Second World War in 1949, two major parties have held the majority of seats in the German parliament, the conservative Christian democratic CDU and the social-democrat SPD (Wahlrecht, 2013). Several smaller parties as the liberal FDP, the Greens and the left-wing party Die Linke have also found their way into the Parliament, something no far-right party could achieve yet (ibid.).

The failure of far right-wing parties to electoral success in Germany differs from what has happened in other European countries (Decker, 2016, p. 10), which can be connected with the strong sentiment of shame after the National-Socialist dictatorship in Germany and the “particularly complicated relationship to the nation” (Miller-Idriss & Rothenberg, 2012, p. 149). However, there were some attempts as it was the case with the far right-wing party Die Republikaner in the late eighties and early nineties of the last century (bpb, 2016a) and the neo-Nazi NPD in the sixties - the latter with some local and regional electoral success in East Germany more recently (bpb, 2016b).

Electoral success

In 2013, after several so-called “rescue programs” for Greece and other countries with the Euro as a currency (Phillips, 2014, p. 10ff), the AfD was founded as a party against that common currency and against the financial policies of the European Union (Volmer, 2013). In the general elections of 2013, the party achieved 4.7 percent of the popular vote, which did not allow them to get any seats in the German parliament as a result of the so called “five per cent clause “ (Deutscher Bundestag, 2017). In the elections to the European Parliament in 2014, seven AfD candidates were elected and became Members of the European Parliament without a parliamentarian group after the party achieved 7.1 percent of the electoral vote (Wahlrecht, 2014). The party has also achieved to get into all regional parliaments that have held elections since 2014, with especially strong results in eastern German states, where the party achieved more than 20 percent of the popular vote (Statista, 2017).

In 2015, after the civil war in Syria become worse, hundreds of thousands of people fled the country (UNHCR, 2017) . Many of them settled in neighboring countries in the Middle East, others went to Turkey and also many of them found their way to Europe through a route via Turkey, Greece, the Balkans and Austria, in many cases with their final destination being Germany, one of the countries that has admitted the largest number of Syrian refugees (Ostrand, 2015, p. 258). In 2015 alone, almost 890,000 asylum seekers arrived in Germany, a number that dropped to about 280,000 in 2016 (BMI, 2017).

This situation gave the AfD the possibility to present themselves as an opponent of chancellor Merkel's liberal refugee policy, calling it a failure and asking the chancellor to resign (Reuters, 2015). This opposition to Merkel's liberal refugee policy has been described as the political trigger that made the party grow in the polls and achieve important electoral results (Blau & Dowling, 2016).

Definition of the party

Besides the control of immigration the opposition to the asylum policy at that time, the party makes a strong commitment to the German values being Christian values (AfD, 2016a). Islam is seen as problematic (AfD, 2016b), therefore their connection to the xenophobic movement Pegida (Fedders, 2016, p. 176) is understandable. Moreover, the party supports the greatness of the German nation (Pegida in Dresden - Die Dokumentation, 2017) and criticizes the economic policies of the government (Bebnowski, 2016, p. 28).

Three streams have been described in the party: a neo-liberal one, a national­conservative one and a right-wing populist one (Werner, 2015, p. 85). Decker (2016, p.10ff) has argued that these three notions of the party are not excluding each other, where populism works as a uniting hinge with its anti-establishment orientation and their declared aim to represent the “real” people. Moreover, this author sees the party as a right-wing populist party where the elites play the role of “moderate” right-wing populists while many of their party members and voters can be considered as more extremist (ibid p. 12).

Scandals and internal disputes

In 2015 the economically liberal party leader Bernd Lucke lost the internal election against Frauke Petry, who became the new party leader in a move that was described by German media as a movement to the right and a victory of nationalist stand points (Schneider, 2015). Since then, the party has caused several scandals, such as the already mentioned idea of firing at refugees crossing the border “if needed” (Beale, 2016), a tweet by Marcus Pretzell accusing chancellor Merkel of being responsible for the deaths caused in a terrorist attack (Pretzell, 2016), or a speech by Bjorn Hocke in which the Memorial to the murdered Jews in Europe was called a “memorial of shame” (Pegida in Dresden - Die Dokumentation, 2017).

In recent times, the party has experienced several internal problems. The party has tried to expel Hocke without success, and the now seen as “moderate” party leader Petry is fighting with the far-right wing and more nationalist party fraction (Busemann, 2017). Whoever wins this dispute will have to lead the party to the next general election in September 2017, a determinant political test for the party.

3. Theoretical & analytical framework

This chapter will critically present and discuss the theories that sustain the future methodological and analytical work. Under the research paradigm of social constructionism, the focus will be set on critical discourse analysis (CDA) as a theory. It is followed by Norman Fairclough's approach to it, also as an analytical framework. Complementary theories of populism, agenda-setting and representation complete this chapter.

3.1 CDA as ontology, theory and analytical tool

It is crucial to understand that discourse analysis is not a method of analysis that can be detached from its theoretical and methodological foundations. It can be seen as a theoretical and methodological whole (J0rgensen & Phillips, 2002). This includes, on the one side, “philosophical premises regarding the role of language, the social construction of the world and theoretical models and, on the other side, methodological guidelines and techniques of analysis (ibid.). This is the path followed by Fairclough (1992).

3.2 Social constructionism

Social constructionism has its roots in the fifty-year-old work of Berger and Luckman “The Social Construction of Reality” (1966). Here, reality is defined as “socially constructed” and “a quality appertaining to phenomena that we recognize as having a being independent of our own validation” and knowledge is seen as “the certainty that phenomena are real and that they possess specific characteristics” (ibid. p. 13). For Hilary Collins (2010, p. 40), social constructionism is “the epistemological view that all knowledge (and therefore all meaningful reality) is dependent on social actors being constructed through interaction between themselves and their environment, which developed and transmitted primarily within a social context”. While Berger and Luckman set the focus on the ontological perspective, Collins focuses on the epistemological character of social constructionism. Both perspectives have been well argued in the literature, as will be explained next.

J0rgensen and Phillips (2002, p. 11) see the research paradigm of social constructionism as part of the broader classic paradigm of interpretivism. Moreover, Hay (2016, p. 532) points out that constructionism is interpretivism's institutionalism, more as ontology, while interpretivism is largely epistemological. Collins also connects social constructionism with interpretivism, which for her “does not aim to report on an objective reality, but rather to understand the world as it is experienced and made meaningful by human beings“ (Collins, 2010, p. 39).

John Searle expands the ideas of Berger and Luckman and the ontological dimension of this approach, dividing facts in “brute facts” (those we cannot explain) and institutional facts, those socially constructed (Searle, 2010, p. 92). Stuart Hall (2013, p. 189)supports the idea that constructivists “do not deny the existence of the material world”, but he admits that, through language, “we construct meaning” (ibid.). And it is in the construction of shared meanings when the notion of discourse comes to play.

3.3 Critical discourse analysis

“Critical discourse analysis (CDA) is a type of discourse analytical research that primarily studies the way social power abuse, dominance and inequality are enacted, reproduced and resisted by text and talk in the social and political context” (van Dijk, 2001, p. 352).

In a very insightful text, written among others by Norman Fairclough and Ruth Wodak, two of the most experienced researchers in this field, some of the main theoretical standpoints of CDA are listed as followed: (1) CDA addresses social problems, (2) power relations are discursive, (3) discourse constitutes society and culture, (4), discourse does ideological work, (5) discourse is historical, (6) the link between text and society is mediated, (7) discourse analysis is interpretative and explanatory and (8) discourse is a form of social action (Fairclough, et al., 2011, p. 406ff).

“Critical discourse analysis must be able to provide an account of the role of language, language use, discourse or communicative events in the (re)production of dominance and inequality [...] through the enactment of dominance in text and talk in specific contexts, and more indirectly through the influence of discourse in the mind of others” (van Dijk, 1993, p. 279).

Van Dijk describes in short manner key concepts of critical discourse analysis: the relation between language and discourse, how the latter is used to ensure some dominance and guarantee power in a certain context. However, one must be critical with these statements and, as Barker did, question the scope of such effects of discourse on people and be aware of the fact that discourse theory does not explain the world, but helps us to understand some parts of it (Barker, 2008, p. 163). This cautious research approach is followed in this thesis.

Power has been described as discursive, but a specific understanding of power is necessary. In this thesis, the definition used is the one given by Wodak (2011, p. 12) in which “power is about relations of difference, and particularly about the effect of differences in social structures [.] Language indexes power, expresses power, is involved where there is contention over and a challenge to power” but “power does not derive from language”. For Fairclough (1995, p. 14) ideologies are “meaning in the service of power”.

For a better understanding of this idea, it is necessary to point out that CDA considers “discourse as social practice” (Fairclough, et al., 2011, p. 394). This implies that there is a dialectical relationship between a discourse event and situations, institution and social structures, or, that discourse is “socially constitutive as well as socially shaped” (ibid.).

When talking about discourse in this work it will be done in the terms in which J0rgensen and Phillips (2002, p. 77) interpreted Fairclough’s application of the concept: first, “discourse refers to language use as social practice”. Second, discourse is understood “as the kind of language used within a specific field”. Third, “discourse is used as a count noun (a discourse, the discourse, the discourses, discourses) referring to a way of speaking which gives meaning to experiences from a particular perspective”.

It is important to explain what is meant by “critical” when talking about CDA. As Fairclough, Mulderrig and Wodak (p. 395) put it, the use of this term is influenced by “Marxist and later Frankfurt School critical theory, in which critique is the mechanism for both explaining social phenomena and for changing them”. Therefore, CDA abandons the ideal of “objectivity” in social science, and sees itself as “engaged and committed; a form of intervention in social practice and social relationships” (ibid.). To summarize and after having interpreted the previous positions, it can be said that this approach puts the researcher in the role of the actor instead of being a mere observer.

Besides Fairclough, one of the most prolific authors in the field of critical discourse analysis is Ruth Wodak, part of the so called Vienna Approach or discourse-historical approach (Reisigl, 2007), what Wodak (2001, p. 66) herself describes as a “socio- philosophical orientation” of critical discourse analysis. Later in this thesis her work will help to both sustain the methodological framework and provide findings that will serve the analysis of the material. The motivation behind choosing her as a key author here is her commitment to analysis of right-wing populist discourses in Europe, which she summarizes in her book “The politics of fear: What right-wing populist discourses mean” (Wodak, 2015).

3.4 Fairclough's approach to critical discourse analysis

In his theoretical considerations of discourse analysis, Norman Fairclough (1995, p. 64) distinguishes between two complementary focuses: communicative events and the order of discourse, whose elements will now be presented.

The order of discourse refers to how a discourse “is structured in terms of configurations of genres and discourses, and shifts within the order of discourse and in its relationship to other socially adjacent orders of discourse (Fairclough, 1995, p. 63). J0rgensen and Phillips describe them in a much more concrete way as “the configuration of all the discourse types which are used within a social institution or a social field” (2002, p. 78).

Communicative events are specific instances of language that can be analyzed according to the relationship between three dimensions: text, discourse practice and sociocultural practice (Fairclough, 1995, p. 57; J0rgensen & Phillips, 2002, p. 78):

a) Text: its analysis covers traditional forms of linguistic analysis and the analysis of the textual organization; taking into account both the meaning and the form of the text. The analysis focuses on three aspects: representations of social practice, relations between writer and reader and constructions of writer and reader identities (Fairclough, 1995, p. 57ff).
b) Discursive practice: the processes of text production and text consumption that work as a link between the textual and the sociocultural practice (Fairclough, 1995, p. 58ff). Its analysis includes the discourses and “genres” articulated (J0rgensen & Phillips, 2002, p. 69).
c) Sociocultural practice (or simply social practice): Considerations about the role that the discursive practice has in maintaining or changing the existing order of discourses and the consequences of this for the broader social practice (J0rgensen & Phillips, 2002, p. 69). It can involve the more immediate situational context of the communicative event, the wider context of institutional practices or the wider frame of the society and the culture (Fairclough, 1995, p. 62).

The relationship between the three dimensions is expressed in the following diagram, which shows the mentioned role of discourse practice as a bridge between text and sociocultural practice:

Figure 1: Fairclough's three-dimensional model of critical discourse analysis (Fairclough, 1995, p. 73).

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Other vital concepts in this theoretical framework are the concepts of intertextuality and interdiscursivity. Intertextuality means that all communicative events “draw on earlier events” (J0rgensen & Phillips, 2002, p. 73). The intertextual analysis looks at text from the perspective of discourse practice - sometimes creative, sometimes conventional ones - (Fairclough, 2001, p. 61). Interdiscursivity is part of the intertextuality of a text and refers to the particular articulations of different discourses and genres in one text (ibid. ).

Two last concepts complete the framework created by Fairclough: genre and hegemony. First, by genre Fairclough means “a use of language associated with and constituting part of some particular social practice, such as interviewing people [...] or advertising commodities” (Fairclough, p. 56). Second, hegemony in discourse analysis is understood not only as dominance but also as the process of negotiation, and the discursive practice can be seen as part of a hegemonic struggle trying to change or preserve the order of discourse of which it is part of (J0rgensen & Phillips, 2002, p. 76).

3.5 Representations

For the critical discourse analysis of messages of the AfD, it will be very helpful to understand what are the meanings included in that discourse and how language shapes them. To better achieve this, the concept of representation is crucial. In this thesis the understanding of representation will be very similar to what Stuart Hall postulates in his text The Work of Representation (2013). The author explains that, simply put, “representation is the process by which members of a culture use language (broadly defined as any system which deploys signs, any signifying system) to produce meaning” (Hall, 2013, p. 194).

Meanings are not static and can change, and researchers have to accept some kind of cultural relativism between one culture and another, what implies some kind of translation from one mindset to another and stands for what Hall calls the constructionist approach to representation (Hall, 2013, p. 195). According to this approach, through representation we make meaning by establishing links between three orders of things: the world of things, people, events and experiences; the conceptual world and the signs, arranged into languages (ibid. ) Later in the analysis it will be dealt with representations that impregnate the messages of AfD politicians and analyze their place within a discourse.

3.6 Theories of populism

Populism is one term that politicians use as a combative description of other politicians. It is the “most slippery” of all -isms in the political science vocabulary (Bjerre-Poulsen, 1986, p. 27). There have been claims about the ubiquity and vagueness of the term (ibid. p. 30). As Taggart (2000, p. 10) points out, it is “surprising how little attention populism has received as a concept”. Wiles (1969, p. 166) portrays the situation as follows: “to each his own definition of populism, according to the academic axe he grinds”. Trying to avoid this lack of concreteness, the definition adopted in this thesis is the one presented by Albertazzi and McDonnell (2008, p. 3), who define political populism as:

“an ideology which pits a virtuous and homogeneous people against a set of elites and dangerous ‘others’ who are together depicted as depriving (or attempting to deprive) the sovereign people of their rights, values, prosperity, identity and voice”.

Moreover, the two authors have identified four core principles of populism: (1) the people are one and are inherently “good”, (2) the people are sovereign, (3) the people’s culture and way of life are of paramount value and (4) the leader and party/movement are one with the people (Albertazzi & McDonnell, 2008, p. 6). More concretely, right-wing populism has been described by Wodak (2015, p. 29) as “a political ideology that rejects existing political consensus and usually combines laissez-faire liberalism and anti-elitism” with a homogeneous population opposed to the elites. These last two aspects have been described as part of the idiosyncrasy of the AfD in the context chapter and will be also looked at in the analysis later on.

A crucial aspect to understand the rise of populism in some societies is the role that the news media play. It has already been discussed that populist parties act in a way that guarantees them media attention, trying to break the routine to gain intense media visibility (Mazzoleni, 2008, p. 49ff). This strategy has been confirmed in internal papers of the AfD (Rothenberg, 2017). Considering the media savvy of populist movements, it has to be asked if contemporary media dynamics are helping these parties. Here is when the central concept of mediatization (Mazzoleni & Schulz, 1999) comes into play: the political subsystem is adapting to the demands and constraints of news production within the media industry, but also the political public performances, language and policy-making has adapted to the media logic and can be identified with the marketization of public representation of politics” (Mazzoleni, 2008, p. 52).

Besides political populism there exists what Mazzoleni (2008, p. 58) describes as “media populism”, meaning a “highly commercialized media production and/or news coverage that yield to general popular tastes, as in the case of tabloid media”. The author also evidences interdependence between populism and media-centered processes, as media influences all phases in the life-cycle of a populist movement (ibid. p. 62). Moreover, media populism is related to the patterns and practices that are common in commercial media outlets, such as infotainment, that help disseminate “sentiments ranging from popular discontent on particularly hot issues to vehemently anti-political attitudes” (ibid. p. 62). From all these considerations I see media as - no matter if unwillingly - a potential helper of political populism, but media should be considered only as one of several factors contributing to populism.

3.7 Agenda-Setting

The process of “agenda-setting” has been defined as the process through which one agenda influences and changes another, distinguishing between a political, a media and a public agenda (Aruguete, 2017, p. 37). Mazzoleni (2008, p. 49) supports this idea when he states that populist leaders “pursue highly contentious agendas that attract media scrutiny”, and once their discourse has influenced the media agenda, it permeates in the public agenda (ibid. p. 50). It is possible that, following Mazzoleni, through their media strategy, the Alternative for Germany achieves that some topics reach the media's attention and therefore become part of the public debate.

Charron (1998) explains three forms of influence of one agenda on another one. The first is about establishing an issue for debate. The second one consists in the opposite: establishing an issue so that is not debated. The third and more important form is the “definition of reality” about a topic or object. I see this last form as part of what has been earlier described as representation, being part of a concrete discursive practice.

4. Literature review of previous research

Different empirical findings that will serve the later analysis will be discussed in this chapter. Wodak's findings on right-wing populist discourses in Europe constitute the main part of this chapter, enhanced by Bebnowski's findings on the AfD discourse.

4.1 Wodak's analysis of right-wing populist discourse

As van Dijk (2001, p. 358ff) summarizes, some of the most important discourse studies that have been carried out are related to gender inequality, media discourse, political discourse and nationalism/racism/ethnocentrism, I will take into account research focused on at least one of the last two fields, which I expect to be the most useful for the research aim of this thesis.

The work of Wodak was mentioned in the previous chapter. Her findings will be very important for informing my analysis and comparing my results with hers. She has, among others, analyzed the political messages of the Austrian right-wing populist party FPO. Her findings are divided into two groups: the contents of the right-wing populist rhetoric and the discursive strategies employed by right-wing populist parties (ibid. p. 90ff).

First, the contents that are typical from right-wing populist rhetoric are:

- Focus on a homogeneous demos/populum (Volk, in German), defined by blood- related (nativist) criteria and endorsing a nativist body policy.
- Stress on a heartland (Heimat), which has to be protected against dangerous outsiders; and construction of threat scenarios (strangers, migrants, banners, Muslims etc.).
- Belief in a common narrative in order to protect the fatherland, in which “We” were either heroes or victims; construction of revisionist histories of treachery and betrayal.
- Difference between “they” who are conspiring against “Us”, conspiracies as discursive construction.
- Use of nationalism, endorsement of traditional/conservative values and morals
- Support of “common sense” simplistic explanations and solutions and need of a charismatic leader who rules a hierarchically organized party (Wodak, 2015, p. 90) .

Second, the discursive strategical patterns used by right-wing populist parties are summarized by the author as follows:

- Manichean divisions of the world into good and bad, “Us” and “Them”, by constructing more or less simplistic dichotomies and by positive self- and negative other-presentation.
- Use of ad hominem arguments - that means, attacking the person making an argument rather than the argument itself (Merriam-Webster, 2017) - and other fallacies, such as hasty generalization, and later use of ambiguous, evasive and insincere apologies.
- Victim-perpetrator reversal and construction of scapegoats.
- Use of history and savior to realize revisionist historical narratives and the myth of the savior who protects “Us” against “Them”.
- Construction of conspiracies thanks to unreal scenarios where perpetrators (the “Other”) are pulling the strings, frequently by using lies or rumors to denounce, trivialize and demonize them.
- Strategy of calculated ambivalence and the strategy of provocation in an aggressive campaigning mode (Wodak, 2015, p. 91) .

4.2 Previous findings about the discourse of the AfD

David Bebnowski (2016) has analyzed some of the statements and discourse leitmotifs of the AfD and comes to some conclusions about their rhetorical patterns they used in their initial phase. These findings will be very useful to the critical discourse analysis of more recent statements of the party in its consolidation phase.


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The Alternative for Germany (AfD). Analysis of a new right-wing populism
Malmö University
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AfD, Diskursanalyse, Diskurs, Politische Kommunikation, Rechtspopulismus, Populismus, Rechtsradikal
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Juan Francisco Alvarez Moreno (Author), 2017, The Alternative for Germany (AfD). Analysis of a new right-wing populism, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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