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Since 1990, Germany’s party system has seen the addition of two electorally successful new parties – Die Linke on the left, and the Alternative for Germany (AfD) on the right. This chapter considers how Germany’s established parties have reacted to the emergence of these two populist parties and how, in turn, Die Linke and AfD have dealt with their responses. It also scrutinises how Die Linke, as the older of the two newcomers, has reacted to the AfD’s emergence. Focussing on the period between 2008 and 2018, the analysis is guided by the three-fold typology of strategic choice – dismissal, accommodation, and adversarialism – which is employed throughout the book.
The chapter finds that the mainstream parties primarily used the strategies of dismissal and adversarialism vis-à-vis the challenger parties, but also tried the accommodative approach. For example, the Eurozone crisis saw the dismissal of all criticism of ‘bank bailouts’ and ‘rescue packages’ voiced by Die Linke. Criticism coming from the AfD was countered with hostile adversarialism in an attempt to ostracise it. The refugee crisis saw mainstream parties changing strategies. First, they defended Germany’s humanitarian ‘welcome culture’ against the AfD’s strong nativist criticism. Later, they adopted a discourse that sometimes bore resemblance to that of the AfD. Die Linke, losing voters to the AfD over its cosmopolitan positions on immigration, stayed its adversarial course against the right-wing newcomer party despite internal conflict over it.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPopulism and New Patterns of Political Competition in Western Europe
EditorsDaniele Albertazzi, Davide Vampa
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780429429798
ISBN (Print)9781138367456, 9781138367449
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2020

Publication series

NameExtremism and Democracy


  • political parties
  • German politics
  • populism
  • challenger parties
  • newcomer parties


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