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Overcoming polarization: Why fighting the AfD is counterproductive and how constructive dialogue can win back voters

Symbolic image politics / pixabay geralt
Symbolic image politics / pixabay geralt

This article sheds light on how the constant confrontation with the AfD contributes to its strengthening and why a constructive dialogue with voters could be a more effective strategy to overcome the political polarization in Germany.

In Germany, the political landscape has changed significantly in recent years, particularly with the rise of the Alternative for Germany (AfD). The reaction of other political parties and many media outlets to this rise has often been characterized by a strategy of open resistance and opposition. However, there are increasing signs that this approach is paradoxically strengthening the party rather than weakening it. At the same time, many AfD voters feel misunderstood by the traditional media and pushed into the right-wing corner, which can contribute to further radicalization.

Conflict researchers point out that a confrontational approach is often counterproductive. It leads to the polarization of society, strengthens the internal cohesion of the opposing group and can radicalize moderate supporters. This phenomenon can also be observed when dealing with the AfD. The constant confrontation has created a feeling of reactance among many of the party's voters - they defend their vote all the more vehemently the more they feel attacked.

Another problem is the often simplified portrayal of AfD voters. Many are not ideologically determined extremists, but citizens who no longer feel represented by the established parties. Equating these voters with radicals in the media reinforces their feeling of exclusion and of not being understood.

The alternative could lie in a more constructive dialog. Instead of rejecting the AfD and its voters across the board, politicians and the media should try to understand and address the underlying concerns and needs of this group of voters. Many people do not vote for the AfD out of conviction, but out of protest or frustration. They are looking for ways to feel their effectiveness in the political landscape and to be taken seriously.

An approach that focuses on understanding and integration rather than confrontation could be more effective in the long term. This does not mean tolerating extremist or divisive positions, but rather taking voters' concerns seriously and including them in a constructive political process. In this way, the traditional parties could win back many disappointed voters and at the same time contribute to an objectification of the political debate.

The human key lies in taking citizens seriously and involving them in the political discourse. By building bridges instead of deepening rifts, parties can bring the political landscape in Germany back together and return to constructive cooperation.


Since its foundation in 2013, the AfD has permanently changed the political landscape in Germany. Its populist rhetoric and positions on issues such as immigration and the EU have provoked both approval and fierce criticism.


The history of the AfD is characterized by a continuous development from a euro-critical to a more right-wing party. This development has intensified the political debate in Germany and led to a realignment of the political balance of power.

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