Daniel Mullis | Urban Studies
In Germany, the electoral success of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is one of the most obvious signs of the rise of the far right. In public debates this tends to be associated with Eastern Germany and rural regions. What is neglected is the fact that the party was also remarkably successful in less privileged urban districts across Germany. In this paper I focus on the urban conditions for the rise of the far right. I do so by presenting first results of ethnographic research in two neighbourhoods of Frankfurt am Main. Both – Riederwald and Nied – are marginalised and the AfD gained considerable support there in the 2017 general elections. In the accounts given in 14 expert interviews I identify three crucial urban processes: austerity urbanism, post-democracy and gentrification. Relating them to findings of long-term studies on right-wing attitudes as well as to the concept of ‘downward mobility’, I argue that these processes increase the competition for resources and strengthen feelings of being left behind as well as experiences of being abandoned by political representatives – which are driving forces for the rise of the far right. And yet these experiences alone do not provide sufficient reason to explain the rise of the far right. They are general processes in the neighbourhoods. However, it seems that intersections with existing group-focused enmities drive a shift from social to regressive collectivity, which raises the potential for far-right political subjectification.