Covid deniers and new forms of social movements in Western Europe

Belinsky A.V.


The article discusses the phenomenon of covid deniers in Germany and Austria. Based on sociological data, the author distinguishes three groups comprising the body of the movement. Far-right parties (the «Alternative for Germany» and the «Freedom Party of Austria») and numerous extremist factions form the first group. They see protests against lockdowns as a continuation of their long-time battle against the system. The second group is composed of ex-adherents of green and left-wing parties, whose philosophy conflicts with restrictive measures imposed by the governments. And, lastly, the third group are ordinary citizens who were deeply shocked by the pandemic and the lockdowns that followed. The article highlights that covid deniers have neither a clear ideology nor an appealing program. Essentially, they are united by minimizing the Covid-19 danger, resenting the ruling elite and mass media, and their fundamentally demanding to lift all restrictions. The covid denier movement has been through three stages of development. The first stage is associated with the growing skepticism towards actions of the governments and creating social media communities. The second stage features the first protests in major cities and propaganda on the Internet. Finally, at the third stage, we can witness more radical protests leading to clashes with police and propagation of right-wing populist and extremist ideas among protestors.


covid-deniers; COVID-19 pandemic; Germany; Austria; lockdown; protests.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2022.02.06

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