As illiberal tendencies within populist movements have been deemed a threat to the current liberal world order, many scholars argue the importance of understanding its roots and strategies (Mouffe, 2005, p. Using a constructivist theory of International Relations to understand the strategy of the Af D, this essay argues that populist parties use an approach of identity construction and interest creation that portrays their own policies as necessary protection of the national identity, independent of concrete current political issues.
Third, the commonalities between the competing explanations of the populist appeal are elucidated.
Lastly, I consider what additional insights can be won from a realist perspective of the problem statement.
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Firstly, as argued by constructivists, identity construction is an intersubjective phenomenon that takes place in a mutual creation of ideational and normative structures and individual’s identities (Hopf, 1998).
By characterizing belonging to a nation as dependent on ethnic ties, the Af D lays out ground rules for who can be considered German.Secondly, the party constructs an image of refugees that renders them not only undeserving of help and protection, but that further brands them a threat to said German identity.Lastly, they contrast both identities and proclaim their own policies as solution to the alleged conflict between them.Within constructivism, the use of language is seen as fundamentally social, where speech acts do not only give humans the possibility to communicate, but also teach them how to act in the world.Language is essential to the creation of norms and meaning and therefore provides the basis for the construction of identity (Fierke, 2016).Furthermore, constructivists have offered additional insights in the forces behind state power, by adding that they go beyond material capacities as stressed by realism and also encompass ideational dimensions (Fierke, 2016).While constructivism cannot be classified as a homogenous theory, all forms share a commitment to “human consciousness and its role in international life” (Ruggie as cited in Barnett, 2013, p. One relevant distinction is to be made between conventional and critical constructivism.Secondly, in constructing the identity of refugees, special consideration must be given to the changing terms used for the asylum seekers entering Germany, ranging from “Asylanten”, used as a denunciation of the refugee’s character, to “Geflüchtete”, as underscoring their helplessness and victimhood (Geisel, 2015).This corresponds to Leach’s account of the refugee crisis in Australia in 2001-2002, who uncovers that multiple aspects constituted an overall picture of the asylum seekers as undeserving (2003).To further qualify their view, they stress the importance of a historically grown, homogenic nation that prescribes to a traditional value system centred around the Christian family (Af D, 2017, p. A German identity is furthermore based on “German cultural heritage, as democracy and freedom are vested in our common cultural values and historical tradition” and takes the German language as focal point of the national character (Af D, 2017, p. In line with this characterization, certain national interests come to the fore that drive the party’s politics and that, in their view, must lie at the heart of each citizen.As such, they commit themselves to retaining “western Christian culture, and [maintaining] our language and traditions in a peaceful, democratic, and sovereign nation state for the German people” (Af D, 2017, p. In concrete terms, this focuses on the expansion of support for traditional families, a reduction in involvement with EU politics and a general protection of German citizens, also by reducing immigration as necessary steps to defend German interests (Af D, 2017).