Virtual Seminar Populism and Democracy in Germany and Central Europe

Populism and Democracy in Germany and Central Europe © ICWA

Thu, 12/02/2021

6:00 PM


RSVP Germany was long thought to be immune to the political far right. But, in 2017, the Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland, AfD) Party capitalized on opposition to the arrival of refugees in Europe in 2015-2016 to build support. Consequently, they became the first far-right party to win seats in parliament since the end of World War II.

Emily Schultheis spent two years as an Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA) fellow, exploring the rise of the AfD and other far-right groups across Central Europe. She will speak at the Goethe-Institut on Thursday, December 2, at 6:00pm, about different tensions within German society — from an enduring East-West divide, to the decline of industrial communities in the populous Ruhr region, to the fraught debates over memory culture and patriotism—that have helped lay the groundwork for a party like the AfD.

What do these issues say about modern Germany and what kind of country it wants to be? What parallels exist in other Central European countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary)?

After Schultheis's fellowship report, ICWA Trustee and co-founder of the American Purpose magazine Jeffrey Gedmin will moderate a panel discussion with Schultheis and Hanno Mussler of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

The event is co-sponsored by American Purpose and the Goethe-Institut.

Emily Schultheis spent two years as an ICWA fellow, traveling throughout Central Europe from her base in Berlin. She is now studying for a masters degree in Nationalism Studies at Central European University in Vienna, while writing for publications including The Associated Press and Politico.

Hanno Mussler is a 23-year veteran business reporter for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Based in the business and finance center Frankfurt, he also has written extensively about the transition from a central planned economy in Hungary and European integration. He is currently on sabbatical in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

ICWA Trustee Jeffrey Gedmin is co-founder and editor-in-chief of the American Purpose magazine. He has served as President/CEO of the London-based Legatum Institute, President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty headquartered in Prague, and Director of the Aspen Institute in Berlin. Together with former US Ambassador to the Czech Republic Norm Eisen, Gedmin is co-chair of the Transatlantic Democracy Working Group.