The Right-Wing Populism and The Discourse of Nostalgia: The Case of The Alternative for Germany (AfD)

Emiroğlu, Doğukan
Right-wing populism has achieved electoral success all around the globe in recent decades. The rise of right-wing populism has been widely discussed in academic literature, but the relationship between populism and nostalgia has not been debated enough, especially in Germany. This thesis aims to analyze the relationship between right-wing populism and the discourse of nostalgia in the context of the Alternative for Germany (AfD). Right-wing populist parties exploit nostalgia by referring to the ‘glorious past’ of their country. However, the AfD is an extraordinary case among other European right-wing populist parties as its discourse of nostalgia is not based on the ‘glorious past’ of Germany but on a diversified regional approach. The AfD’s rhetoric of nostalgia has different dimensions at federal and regional levels. While the AfD presents the past as ‘normal’ at the federal level, the AfD exploits the negative collective nostalgia of the GDR in the former GDR territories. In this thesis, the different dimensions of exploitation of nostalgia are analyzed in detail by using qualitative research methods. Furthermore, the thesis argues that the AfD exploits the discourse of nostalgia as a tool for social identity construction, political mobilization, and legitimization of its radical right-wing agenda. In order to find out the connection between nostalgia and right-wing populism and to provide a better understanding of AfD, this thesis introduces a comprehensive and critical analysis of literature on populism, nostalgia, and the AfD.


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Citation Formats
D. Emiroğlu, “The Right-Wing Populism and The Discourse of Nostalgia: The Case of The Alternative for Germany (AfD),” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2022.