My perception is that in Germany most major political decisions are not on the ballot: migration, nuclear energy, international, alliances, emission reduction policies to name but a few examples. Whereas people in the Americas worry about polarization, I would argue that Germany’s problem is the opposite. Compared to the historical average German politics is too tame and not polarized enough. Polarized debates were much more endemic when the country debated the Nato Doppelbeschluss, the Kohl era (re-unification) or the Adenauer era (West alliance, later the failed project of a European army). The counterfactual in many of these cases would have been different had the other party been in power. The same is not true for the Merkel era. The word ‘Alternative’ derives from her suggesting that her Euro-crisis management was without alternative. If I may offer one conjecture as to why this is happening, I would argue that the degree of elite convergence is greater than in the Americas. The opinion spectrum covered by public intellectuals is just so much smaller. And with trade unions and the church in decline so is the opinion spectrum covered by the country’s leading non-governmental institutions. (The treatment of that party’s very different initial leadership in the mid 2010’s illustrates this point.) So, in short, my (and many people’s) argument is that as in the Hotelling model ideological conformity of the elites has created the space for a non-ideologically aligned entrant. Naturally, this entrant is more extreme than a more conservative version of the Christian Democrats (and I tend to think that this is so because Christianity forbids you to go down certain tempting, yet inhumane rabbit holes but that is for another day) and of lesser quality because given the current intellectual climate the new party has trouble recruiting elites. Needless to say, you should not vote for this party. But I understand why it exists.

That is from “C.”

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