The Man That Wasn’t There: Exploring the Subcutaneous Manifestations of Party-Based Radical Right Populism


This case study introduces a mixed-method, explorative research project on the Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the first 2 years of its existence (2013–2014). As the debate on the early Alternative for Germany has shown, the ideological features of a new party might be inconclusive depending on the data at hand. The extended focus is therefore on the study of ideologically ambiguous new parties, and it is argued that these can be encountered by case-oriented, explorative approaches. Thus, in the early stages of its existence, the party is viewed in its entirety, examined in its political context, and evaluated by qualitative and quantitative data. The authors consider this approach as especially useful in the case of new and young parties that often lack sophisticated party platforms/manifestos. Researchers therefore often must rely on other sources. The case study presents the approach, the data basis and the structure of the research project and concludes with an evaluation of the chosen methods. It also discusses the theoretical and conceptual as well as the practical research problems that arise from studying new parties.

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