Thuringia and the AfD’s talent for political chaos

One vote in one state parliament in Germany may not seem like the kind of action that could trigger a massive bout of national soul-searching and topple Angela Merkel’s preferred successor.

But that’s exactly what happened earlier this month, after lawmakers from two right-of-center parties in the eastern state of Thuringia voted with the far-right AfD to topple the state’s left-wing governor. The vote, breaking a major taboo in Germany on collaborating with the far right in any form,

Parties like the AfD may not, in the short term, have any hope of running a national government. That said, they have an outsize impact on the political discussion here precisely because they’re good at exploiting existing political tensions, using it to create political chaos—and then, in turn, benefiting electorally from that chaos.

In my first piece for CNN Opinion, I looked at that phenomenon, and what it might mean for mainstream parties hoping to combat the far right’s influence. You can read the piece here.