Political Tipping Point: Can the AfD be stopped?

Copyright: THE NEW INSTITUTE | Maximilian Glas


Political Tipping Point: Can the AfD be stopped?

Claus Leggewie on right-wing radicalism, old pressures and new cleavages

Tipping Points

We are at a decisive historical moment in German politics. Despite a decline since January, the AfD is still the second strongest party, currently faring at 18,4% in recent opinion polls. If there are limits to rational democratic speech, and one cannot agree to the ground-rules and facts that guide meaningful political communication, then the following question arises: How can the AfD be stopped?

This issue drives Claus Leggewie, one of Germany’s pre-eminent political scientists, political activists, and the director of the Panel on Planetary Thinking at Universität Gießen. In his Weekly Lecture, Leggewie proposes two strategies: First, mobilize progressive and centrist societal forces, especially non-voters, which amounted to 23,4% at the last federal election. Second, speak with moderate conservative groups. Moderates want to be spoken with and to discuss their political views, and progressive politics should take this up.


Claus Leggewie is holder of the Ludwig Börne professorship and director of the “Panel on Planetary Thinking” at Giessen University. Focusing on the French ecological movement, his first book on political ecology dates back to 1978. He wrote numerous publications on planet-society interrelations ever since, ranging from energy transition to climate politics to the Anthropocene. He currently is co-editor of the book series "Climate & Cultures" (Brill) and the "Routledge Global Cooperation Series" (Routledge). Earlier affiliations include visiting professorships at the University of Paris-Nanterre and New York University (Max Weber Chair). He was also a fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, the Remarque Institute at New York University, and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.

From 2007 to 2015, Leggewie acted as the director of the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI) in Essen where he established the research area Climate and Cultures as a first of its kind in Germany, and founded the Center for Global Cooperation Research (KHK/ GCR21) in Duisburg. From 2008 to 2016, he was a member of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). In fall 2021 he will be Honorary Fellow at the Thomas Mann House in Los Angeles. Claus Leggewie received several awards throughout his academic career, including the Volkmar and Margret Sander-Prize (New York University) in 2016. He regularly publishes in newspapers and magazines, including Le Monde diplomatique, The New York Review of Books, Los Angeles Review of Books and Rolling Stone.

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