It has been announced that European Parliamentary elections will be held in the European Union (EU) member states on June 6-9, 2024. With the date set, parties that want to shape European politics have started to formulate their electoral strategies. One of these parties is the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). The party held its 14th Federal Party Congress in Magdeburg on August 6, 2023. At the congress, candidates for the European Parliament elections were selected and party programs were announced. In the election program, AfD officials stated that they see the European Union (EU) as a failed project in all important areas, including migration and climate policy.
The EU, which consists of 27 members, is considered a successful project that brought peace to the European Continent, where wars with devastating effects were experienced and enabled different groups to live together with the understanding of multiculturalism. However, the economic crises that started in the 2000s and the intensified migration flow as of 2015 have prepared a suitable ground for the organization of Eurosceptic and nationalist names and groups. Likewise, the AfD was founded in 2013 and has gradually expanded its base with the impact of the ongoing crises in Europe. Shaping its main discourses on the axis of anti-Islam and anti-immigrant, xenophobia, Euroscepticism and ethnic nationalism, AfD criticizes the EU for “ignoring the will of the peoples of Europe”. The party also claims that the EU is developing policies that will harm European identity and nation states.
Despite all these criticisms, the AfD attaches importance to the elections to the European Parliament, an important institution of the EU. Together with the Council of the EU, the European Parliament is responsible for making laws and adopting legal regulations binding on the member states. In addition, the European Parliament is also responsible for approving the EU budget together with the Council of the EU and supervising other EU institutions. Following the elections, MEPs belonging to political groups are in charge of electing the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council. Therefore, the more the AfD and other far-right parties in Europe increase their number of seats in the European Parliament, which is an important institution for the functioning of the EU, the more effective actors they will become in making decisions that will affect the fate of the EU in line with their policies.
As the only body of the EU directly elected by the people, the composition of the European Parliament reflects the political picture of Europe. From this perspective, the current political atmosphere in EU member states gives an idea about how the Parliament will be shaped.
When European countries are analyzed, it is noteworthy that far-right political parties have increased their vote rates. The AfD, which has managed to appeal to a wide range of voters, is one of the parties that has increased its vote rate. For example, the town of Sonneberg in the eastern part of Thuringia elected Robert Sesselmann of the AfD with 52.8% of the vote as a district administrator, the equivalent of a mayor. AfD co-leader Tino Chrupalla said: “This was just the beginning. We will convince the people with our policies. We will change the situation for the better.” In other words, the party emphasizes society’s discontent with the current policies. At this point, the conjuncture also gives the AfD an advantage. While problems such as the economic crisis and migration continue, the economic and social repercussions of the Russia-Ukraine war on Europe have increased the discontent of the society. The sanctions imposed on Russia by EU member states and Russia’s response by using the energy card have had negative consequences in almost every field, from the decline in the production sector to the decline in the welfare level of households, especially in countries with close energy relations with Russia, such as Germany. This situation led to the rapprochement between the AfD, which criticized the support for Ukraine, and significant segments of the society and the expansion of the party’s base.
It can be said that the fact that all these developments are taking place in the run-up to the 2024 elections will also affect the AfD’s votes in the European elections. The political group Identity and Democracy, to which the AfD belongs, has 9 deputies in the 751-person parliament, which will serve between 2019 and 2024, and 73 deputies. According to the surveys, if the European Parliament elections were held today, it is estimated that far-right political parties would increase their votes compared to the center parties. Similarly, polls suggest that the AfD would increase by 15 seats. Therefore, while the current situation favors the AfD, the authorities are developing strategies to gain the support of more voters.
In this direction, the AfD officials, who adopted an election program for Germany to leave the EU (Dexit) before the Bundestag Elections in 2021 and expressed that the EU should be disbanded in a controlled manner in the draft text published after the party congress held in June 2023, changed their discourse and determined a program for voters who care about European integration but are uncomfortable with the policies of the central political parties. Instead of repeating ideas such as Dexit and the disintegration of the EU in the European Parliament election program statement, it is understood that the AfD wants to increase its vote potential by developing an alternative European plan in the process leading to the European Parliament elections. From this point of view, the new program emphasizes that the EU should be rebuilt as a federation of European nations and that the euro should not be used as a common currency. The aim here is to achieve an integration in which the majority of control lies with the nation states. The main objectives of the envisioned federation are explained as securing external borders against migration, seeking strategic autonomy in security policies and protecting the identity of European nations.
These objectives of the Federation are based on the main issues on which the AfD often criticizes the EU. Immigration has been the most emphasized and securitized issue of the AfD since its foundation. The party claims that immigrants from Africa and the Middle East harm European values and identity in general and German values and identity in particular. Migrants have also been targeted as a threat to the economic welfare of Germans. Especially the open-door policy implemented by former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the terrorist attacks in Europe have provided a ground for the AfD to adopt these observations about immigrants by the society. Thus, AfD started to use more emphasis on anti-immigration and protection of national identities in its discourse.
Similarly, the AfD advocates that European states should formulate their own security policies in line with their own interests. While the Party supports NATO acting in line with German interests, there are views that NATO is conducting activities to maintain US supremacy and that this is not in line with German interests. In order to regain its former power, Germany needs to develop its capabilities independently from other actors.
In conclusion, the AfD, which wants to be decisive in European politics, wants to send more deputies to the European Parliament. For this reason, in the process leading up to the 2024 European Elections, it has created an election program for the arguments it defends. In this program, the failure of the EU, which is held responsible for the problems and crises in Europe, was emphasized and an alternative Europe Plan was presented by stating that the EU should be transformed. Although the AfD has presented a reformist perspective with this plan, its minority position in the Parliament shows that the party does not yet have the power to implement a reform on the EU. Nevertheless, given the political strengthening of the far-right in many European countries outside Germany, such as Italy, Sweden, France and Spain, it is clear that the AfD needs to find a compromise with the far-right support base for the survival of the EU in the long term.
 “German Far-Right Says the EU Is A ‘Failed Project’ As It Prepares for European Parliament Elections”, The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/08/06/germany-far-right-alternative-afd-election-europe/6e9f61e0-3454-11ee-ac4e-e707870e43db_story.html, (Erişim Tarihi: 11.08.2023).
 Kate Connolly, “Far-Right Afd Wins Local Election İn ‘Watershed Moment’ For German Politics”, Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jun/26/far-right-afd-wins-local-election-watershed-moment-german-politics, (Erişim Tarihi: 14.08.2023).
 “European Parliament 2019 – 2024”, European Parliament, https://www.europarl.europa.eu/election-results-2019/en/germany/, (Erişim Tarihi: 14.08.2023).
 “Right Wing Set for Big Gains İn 2024 EU Election, Polling Shows”, Politico, https://www.politico.eu/article/european-election-2024-polls-right-wing-big-gains/, (Erişim Tarihi: 11.08.2023).
 “German Far-Right Says the EU Is A ‘Failed Project’ As It Prepares for European Parliament Elections”, a.g.e., (Erişim Tarihi: 11.08.2023).
 “Manifesto for Germany”, AfD, https://www.afd.de/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/2017-04-12_afd-grundsatzprogramm-englisch_web.pdf, (Erişim Tarihi: 14.08.2023).