Protest researcher: Could demos against the right become a political movement?

protest researcher
Could demos against the right become a political movement?

Numerous people take part in a demonstration against right-wing extremism in Berlin. photo

© Christophe Gateau/dpa

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets again at the weekend against the AfD and right-wing extremism. How does the broad mobilization come about?

The numerous demonstrations in Germany against right-wing extremism and the According to protest researcher Tareq Sydiq, the AfD of the past few weeks could lead to a long-term protest movement. One sign of this is that the many demonstrations against the right have been popular for almost a month. Sydiq told the German Press Agency that it is also crucial for the movement’s continued existence whether the participants form alliances and agree on common goals and strategies.

The political scientist works at the Center for Conflict Research at Marburg’s Philipps University and specializes in political participation and social movements. He was surprised that just a few days after the revelations by the media company Correctiv about a meeting between radical right-wingers and individual politicians from the AfD, CDU and Values ​​Union in Potsdam in November, there were already large demonstrations across Germany. Sydiq said he was also impressed by the sometimes strong mobilization in rural areas.

Politicizing and democracy-promoting effects possible

A possible model for the current protests could be the demonstrations during the 1990s, said the scientist. They motivated many people to get involved with refugees and thus had long-term effects. The current protests could also have such a politicizing and democracy-promoting effect.

Although there is no clear objective yet, the demonstrators can already claim success: With their sign against the right, they have created a “certain narrative change” in that the content of the AfD is now not constantly being discussed, “but rather that people are talking about right-wing extremism in the AfD,” said Sydiq.

The party’s strategy is currently “to explain it away and to delegitimize anything that could somehow reach its supporters in the way of criticism,” said the protest researcher. This also works because the core supporters in particular cannot be reached through protests or scandals. They believed what the party said and could be strengthened in their worldview through counter-protests, said Sydiq.

The researcher sees the reason for the current broad mobilization not only in the term “remigration” discussed at the Potsdam meeting. When right-wing extremists use this, they usually mean that large numbers of people of foreign origin should leave the country – even under duress.

Rather, the ideas of the former head of the Austrian Identitarian Movement, Martin Sellner, made it clear to many that it was also about people who were committed to refugees as well as third, fourth or fifth generation German citizens. “That’s a ethnic understanding of being German. And we’re also talking about political opponents. Commitment is not an ethnic marker. And of course that’s a breaking of taboos and a completely different kind of escalation,” said Sydiq.


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