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Pessimistic young Germans turning to far right, says study

April 23, 2024

German teenagers and young adults find themselves increasingly unsatisfied and likely to vote for the far right, according to a survey. Fears about prosperity are highlighted as a possible cause.

Anna Leisten, deputy chairwoman of Junge Alternative Brandenburg, speaks at a demonstration by the AfD Brandenburg
Compared to previous years, the survey found that younger people were becoming increasingly dissatisfiedImage: Christophe Gateau/dpa/picture alliance

Young people are more likely to vote for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) than previously, a study on Tuesday showed.

Authors of the "Youth in Germany 2024" study said that under-30s were increasingly disgruntled with their social and economic situation, and that fears about future prosperity were driving a shift to the right.

The AfD's signature issue is a hard-line anti-immigration stance, and the data showed that migration was among young people's main concerns. 

What did the figures show? 

About 22% of the 2,000 young people aged 14 to 29 said they intended to vote for the AfD if they were able to vote in parliamentary elections right now.

That figure is more than double what it was two years ago, the study said.

Only 9% of young people said they would vote for the AfD in 2022, compared to 12% last year.

The survey showed that 18% of young people and young adults would vote for the Greens, down from 27% in 2022. 

The business-focused Free Democrats (FDP) plunged from 19 to 8% while the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) dipped from 14 to 12%. 

The conservative CDU/CSU rose from 16% to 20%, while the new populist Sahra Wagenknecht alliance garnered 5%.

What did the study find young people worried about?

The online study, conducted in January and February, found that young people were becoming increasingly dissatisfied, especially with their social and economic situation, compared with previous years.

After the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors said economic and political worries for example due to inflation, high rents, the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East or the division of society had taken center stage. 

German political parties see surge in new members

Climate change concerns are on the wane, they said, but fears are growing when it comes to issues such as inflation, the economy and poverty in old age.

Young people were especially worried about inflation (65%), expensive housing (54%), poverty in old age (48%), the division of society (49%) and an increase in migrant and refugee flows (41 percent). 

The study shows a high level of dissatisfaction with the political situation and an increased potential for right-wing populist attitudes.

"We can speak of a clear shift to the right among the young population," said author Klaus Hurrelmann.

"While the parties of the [coalition] government continue to fall in popularity, the AfD is particularly popular," referring to the so-called "traffic light coalition" of SDP, Greens, and FDP.

The AfD's youth organization, Junge Alternative (JA), has been classified by Germany's domestic intelligence sevice as as right-wing extremist

rc/wmr (dpa, epd)

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