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The electoral success of the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has presented challenges to conventional explanations about populism’s efficacy in well-established liberal democracies like Germany. There are shared foundational elements between Euro-American styled populist parties and authoritarian systems of government, both of which exploit economic and cultural threats for advantage. Existential Insecurity theory posits that these threats are the basis for the manifestation of the authoritarian personality, in which adherents are more inclined to turn to authoritarian forms of government. Employing this theory within the wider historical context of Germany’s political development, including various incarnations of authoritarianism, a more inclusive and fruitful explanation for the rise of the AfD is provided than is provided by individual authors in a contemporary context.