The socio-political career of the expression “the great replacement” among right-wing party networks in Germany: The case of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party

The political implementation of ideas
By Cécile Leconte

This article recounts the socio-political career of the expression “the great replacement,” coined by French writer Renaud Camus, within the party networks of Alternative for Germany (AfD), a newly founded party that has been represented in the Bundestag since 2017. It shows that while appropriating a foreign reference allows German right-wing activists to rehabilitate a racist discourse by circumventing the stigma associated with Nazi parlance, the main reason behind the widespread circulation of this expression within the party itself is to be found in the reactivation of preexisting networks (those of the New Right and of the Identity movement) that largely penetrate party structures, in a context of intra-party struggles about the definition of the “AfD” brand. The circulation of the “great replacement” reference within the party is indeed tightly linked with an attempt to transform it into an identitarian, movement-based force, against the background of a twofold fight: a fight related to the definition of the party’s borders vis-à-vis its external environment, and a fight about the definition of speech norms within the organization, especially in relation to Nazi parlance.

  • international circulation of political ideas
  • social history of political ideas
  • sociology of political parties
  • radical right parties in Europe
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