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Could Breitbart influence next year's German election?

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Could Breitbart influence next year's German election?
Screenshot of Breitbart News website.
09:56 CET+01:00
In the wake of Donald Trump's US election victory, right-wing US internet site Breitbart News Network confirmed they are planning to expand into Germany. But they could struggle to adapt, an analyst tells The Local.

A leading voice in the so-called alt-right movement - a loose alliance of people with anti-immigration, white-nationalist and anti-Semitic views - Breitbart News shot to prominence when its former head Stephen Bannon was named Donald Trump's campaign chairman in August.

Building on a swift rise in popularity since its establishment in the US in 2007, the controversial site is now set to try to break into non-English speaking markets.

Breitbart, which already has a website in the UK, has started interviewing European journalists for the planned new French and German sites, Breitbart editor-in-chief Alex Marlow told Reuters on November 9th.

According to Reuters, the project has the express goal of helping elect right-wing politicians in the two European countries, where anti-immigrant sentiment has been on the rise.

Both Germany and France will hold national elections in 2017. In Germany the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) are hoping to go from having no seats in the Bundestag (German parliament) to becoming the third largest party, after scoring unexpected success at the state level in 2016.

The AfD branch in Heidelberg was clearly delighted at the news that the site is launching in Germany, tweeting: "Breitbart is coming to Germany. Fantastic! That'll cause an earthquake in our stale media landscape."

But an expert on German media told The Local that the track record of US media companies in Germany shows Breitbart will have a hard time establishing itself.

“Apart from a few niche TV stations, US media offshoots have not been particularly successful in Germany,” Dr. Lutz Frühbrodt of the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt told The Local via email.

“The cultural differences are too large for a successful model to be transplanted one-to-one from the US to Germany.”

Frühbrodt pointed out that there is an established right-wing media scene in Germany.

In recent weeks the site, Einblick was launched by the conservative former editor-in-chief of WirtschaftsWoche. Meanwhile, Junge Freiheit, an arch-conservative weekly newspaper, has more or less "become a mouthpiece for the Alternative for Germany."

“There's quite a bit going on in the right-wing media scene. That could help Breitbart establish itself in the German market.”

Nonetheless, the academic sees room for another right-wing voice as “rather limited” without a further increase in the popularity of right-wing populism.

And he doubts that Breitbart will be relevant to next year's election.

“Even if Breitbart manages to quickly achieve a certain standing in Germany, it is not likely to have a decisive effect on the election - and that goes for all the right-wing media. Much more important is the extent to which the mainstream parties respond to the concerns and needs of citizens.”

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