2. But main story is Merkel lost to AfD because of her "soft" position on refugees. While this is true, there are two important caveats to this story.
3. First, Union (CDU + CSU) lost substantially more votes to libertarian FDP than populist radical right AfD! Union lost 1.360.000 votes to FDP compared to 980.000 votes to AfD!
4. Second, CSU lost more to AfD than CDU, despite having an almost as populist radical right discourse as AfD. Sure, they couldn't get much policy change, but that at least shows that discourse minus policy doesn't work.
5. But now to most important point. While AfD won most votes from Union, proportionately Die Linke lost most votes to AfD! Union lost 5.4% of its 2013 electorate to AfD, Die Linke 10.7% (!), almost twice as much! 😮
6. AfD replaced Die Linke as the second party in the East. That is of huge significance, for both parties.
7. AfD is now protest party of East Germany. Why did that happen? And why in 2017 and not in 2013?
8. In 2013 the AfD was still a bourgeois, Euro-skeptic, WESSIE party, which was both culturally and economically unattractive to Easterners.
9. In 2017 the dominant issue in the election was "immigration" on which the AfD, not Die Linke, is the protest party.
10. Moreover, for a sizeable portion of Easterners "Ostalgie" will always have had an (implicit) ethnic component, which was triggered by the so-called "refugees crisis."
11. At the same time, Die Linke is becoming normalized, losing its "protest" profile, particularly in the East, where it has become part of the "established parties".
12. This all said, Die Linke has much stronger infrastructure and roots in the East than the AfD and therefore has a good chance to survive, although not perhaps grow, in the East.
13. The AfD is just the newest stick to beat the (Wessie) political establishment with. In 2013 disproportionately many Easterners voted for similar reasons for the extreme right NPD.
14. Neither NPD nor AfD has really strong infrastructure or roots in the East. Rather, they are vehicles for even more extreme rightists to pursue their own politics through, like Bjorn Höcke in Thuringia.
15. This is all not to say that AfD is East problem, linked to post-communism, authoritarian personalities, and other stereotypical "explanations".
16. Rather, it is to complicate the "Merkel lost to AfD because of Willkommenspolitik" narrative, which is dominating the media these days. CSU and Die Linke lost too, bigly!