German youth flock to the AfD party over fears of crime and immigration

The anti-immigration party is addressing the young generation's problems and has the strongest social media presence, according to experts

AfD co-chair Alice Weidel. (MTI/EPA/Clemens Bilan)
By Dénes Albert
4 Min Read

Two and a half years ago, the future of the German Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the Greens looked bright in Germany, as the parties were popular among young people. In the federal elections held in September 2021, the Greens came first with 23 percent of 18-24 year-olds, closely followed by the Liberals with 21 percent.

At the time, the Greens and FDP said: “Young people want education and climate protection,” referring to the many first-past-the-post voters who voted for the yellow and green parties.

But the EP elections painted a very different picture. Among first-time voters aged 16-17, neither the FDP nor the Greens came out on top. The CDU/CSU came first with 17 percent, followed closely by the AfD with 16 percent.

Hungarian news and opinion portal writes that in the 2021 federal elections, 7 percent of 18-24-year-olds voted for AfD , and now 17 percent of 16-24-year-olds in the EU parliament elections. Where did this increase come from?

“Social inequality is an important issue,” says youth researcher Simon Schnetzer, adding that “if young people feel that the current government is not improving this, they will look for alternatives.”

Another factor is the AfD’s dominant presence on social media, especially on TikTok.

“We have seen many studies that the party has an almost dominant position in social networks,” noted political scientist Thorsten Faas.

“Social media is the space where the AfD is extremely successful compared to other parties,” noted another youth researcher, Simon Schnetzer.

On social media, the AfD is clearly better able than others to reflect the concerns of young people. In a survey asking what people in Germany fear most, 18-34-year-olds ranked crime (69 percent) first, followed by climate change (65 percent) and concerns that life in Germany is changing drastically (60 percent).

“Fear of crime is linked to migration,” explains political scientist Jasmin Riedl. “The issue of immigration has been on the agenda within the European Union for a long time.”

As Remix News reported yesterday, Boris Palmer, the mayor of Tübingen, says migration is also a crucial issue. On Facebook, he cites the influx of young men as a reason for young people’s voting behavior.

“They feel that their fears of violence from the Maghreb and the Middle East are not taken seriously or are being labeled as racism,” Palmer writes. These are the life situations they are confronted with “woke dogmas and open borders,” Palmer continues.

That the migration issue is playing a bigger role is shown by a recent youth study by the Tui Foundation, which surveyed 6,000 young people aged between 16 and 26 in six European countries.

For the first time in years, climate change was not the most pressing issue for young people, but migration and asylum, with Germany having the highest proportion of people who thought so.

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