Fear and Loathing in the Bundestag

My latest story, for The Atlantic, was about one of the direct results of Germany’s September federal election: the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD)’s early days in the German Bundestag.

Though the AfD has only been in the Bundestag for a few short months, its 92 members have already changed the daily business of politics in Berlin. I spent some time in the Bundestag, watching session and speaking to members of different parties, to understand exactly what life is like with the far right around.

One politician, from the Left party, told me he’s changed the way he addresses fellow members (or Abgeordneter) during speeches on the plenary floor. No longer are they “dear colleagues”; now, they are the much more formal “ladies and gentlemen.” Bundestag staffers and members alike have stopped saying hello to strangers in the hallways, for fear that they’ve run into an AfD member. And one member of the liberal Free Democrats, when I met him for coffee in the Reichstag building in which the Bundestag chambers are located, selected a corner table for us to discuss the AfD so we wouldn’t be overheard.

While it’s still too early to give a full assessment of the party’s impact in the Bundestag, it was fascinating to see the intangible ways in which their mere presence has altered things in Berlin.

Read the piece here in The Atlantic.

The view from inside the dome of Berlin’s Reichstag building.
The view from inside the glass dome of the Reichstag building, home to Germany’s parliament