In this article in the journal Politics and Governance, Heinze and Weisskircher examine the party organization of Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany), the country’s major anti-immigration party. They show that the party is exceptional among what is usually understood as the populist radical right party family, at least from an organisational perspective: The AfD sharply contradicts the “standard model”, which emphasises “charismatic” leadership and the centralisation of power as key features. Instead, studying the AfD’s efforts to adopt some elements of a mass-party organisation and its relatively decentralised decision-making underlines the importance of “movement-party” strategy, collective leadership, and internal democracy—concepts that are usually associated with Green and left-wing parties. When it comes to “movement-party” strategy, parts of AfD strongly cooperate with anti-immigration street protestors, especially in eastern Germany. Importantly, Heinze and Weisskircher’s analysis shows how the AfD’s organisation is essential for understanding its development more broadly as it reflects and reinforces sharp intra-party conflict. From this perspective, the case of the AfD sheds new light on the relationship between PRR party organisation and electoral success, indicating the importance of strong ties to parts of society over effective internal management as long as demand for anti-immigration parties is high.

The article can be read here (Open Access).