Our speakers analyze the recent elections in Germany and Austria, offering insight into how far the rise of far-right political parties and messaging impacts the political landscape both nationally and at the European level.

25 April 2018


Nicola Beer, Member of German Bundestag, Land Hessen; Secretary General, Free Democratic Party; State Secretary for European Affairs and Hessian State Ministry of Justice (2009-12)
Michael Ikrath, Member, European Economic and Social Committee, Brussels; Nationalrat Member, Vienna, ÖVP, Austria (2003-13)
Chair: Quentin Peel, Associate Fellow, Europe Programme, Chatham House


The 2017 elections in Germany and Austria both resulted in coalition governments led by Christian Democratic parties after protracted and difficult negotiations.

Issues around migration, the economy and domestic security dominated both elections and both countries saw their respective right-wing parties make large electoral gains. How far do these gains change the politics of these countries at a national level? And what might these two elections foreshadow for the political landscape across Europe?

In Austria, the centre-right ÖVP has reduced the right-wing FPÖ’s prominence in the short-term, but in doing so have used appeals to radical right-wing populist ideas.

Similarly in Germany, the right-wing AfD has entered the Bundestag as the largest opposition party, giving them a prominent platform to continue their potentially divisive messaging.

Should European political discourse now accept the normalization of rhetoric previously considered the preserve of extreme right-wing political narratives? How might such a trend shape the future direction of mainstream politics in Germany and Austria?

Or is the influence of far-right parties merely temporary and overstated in terms of its long term impact on European democracies?

This event is in association with the British German Association (BGA).