Editorial: Europe Election – The Rising Influence of the AfD Among German Youth

Europe election

Europe Desk, Delhi Magazine: In the modest setting of a Straussfurt brewery in Thuringia, an April evening meeting has sold out, drawing an audience predominantly aged 40 to 70, with a notable presence of younger faces. Among them, Adrian, a 16-year-old, boldly proclaims, “I’m for the AfD, but I’m not allowed to talk about it at school,” as he addresses the crowd with a microphone in hand. Adrian is here to see Björn Höcke, a regional deputy and one of the most extreme faces of the far-right party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), according to Politico. Höcke, known for his provocative views that echo fascist and Nazi theories from the 1930s, was fined 13,000 euros on May 14 for a Nazi slogan he used at a 2021 meeting.

Despite this controversial background, Adrian remains convinced of his political stance. As he prepares to vote for the first time in the upcoming European elections, he is certain his vote will go to the AfD. This sentiment is not isolated. Increasingly, German youth are gravitating towards the ideas of the far-right. Recent data from Euronews indicates that the AfD has surged to second place in voting intentions for the European elections in Germany, garnering over 18% support. The Youth in Germany 2024 study reveals that among the 14-29 age group, the AfD leads with 22% of voting intentions. With nearly five million new young voters aged 16 and above, the AfD is making concerted efforts to capture this demographic through meetings and social media outreach.

Towards the end of the Straussfurt meeting, Adrian eagerly snaps a photo with Björn Höcke, expressing his belief that the AfD offers clear solutions on issues like pensions, education, and public spending. He avidly follows the party on social media, as do Lennart and Mika, both 15, who couldn’t get into the sold-out event. Mika feels that the AfD “is the party that best represents young people.”

Stefan Möller, the AfD deputy in Thuringia, acknowledges the significance of engaging this young electorate. He emphasizes the need to resonate with their concerns about transportation, financial struggles, and identity. “The AfD sees itself as the party of identity, addressing the questions young people ask themselves: ‘Who am I, who do I want to become?'” Adrian agrees, feeling a strong sense of identity and opposition to immigration with the AfD.

Meanwhile, two hours east in Magdeburg, Florian Russ and his colleagues are actively campaigning, hanging posters that urge voters to “stop illegal immigration” and support the AfD “for our security.” All three are members of Junge Alternative, the youth wing of the AfD, which a Cologne court recently deemed a “clearly extremist movement” with an “ethno-nationalist vision” of Germany. Florian Russ, feeling like a “foreigner in [his] own country,” embodies the ideology driving the party’s youth engagement.

As the AfD continues to gain traction among young voters, their influence in shaping Germany’s political landscape becomes increasingly evident. The party’s ability to address identity issues and provide seemingly straightforward solutions to complex problems resonates with a generation searching for clarity and direction. This growing support among the youth signals a significant shift in Germany’s political dynamics, raising questions about the future trajectory of the nation’s values and policies.

Delhi Magazine Team

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