Why 13 percent of Germans would welcome a 'Führer'
A new survey signals that Germany, where the term 'Führer,' or leader, is explicitly linked to Adolf Hitler, is not immune from the far-right sentiments that are spreading across Europe.
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This new governing architecture – extreme parties that indirectly join a ruling coalition – is now found in Denmark, where the government must rely on the far-right People’s Party to operate. As author Ian Buruma notes, this form of government gives extreme parties “power without responsibility.”Skip to next paragraph
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Growing divide over immigrants' place
Yet xenophobic rhetoric has crept in. Germany is currently enswathed in debate over comments by Horst Seehofer, president of the Bavarian Christian-Social Union, who stated days ago, “It is clear that immigrants from other cultures such as Turkey and Arabic countries have more difficulties. From that I draw the conclusion that we don’t need additional immigration from other cultures.” The CSU is a sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats.
Mr. Seehofer’s comments are seen as responding to German president Christian Wulff on Oct. 3, German Unity Day, in which he called for a second German unification that would more fully integrate those of immigrant background; he said that “Islam also is part of Germany.”
President Wulff’s statement followed a month of furor over a new book by leftist German central banker Thilo Sarrazin, “Germany Abolishes Itself,” positing that immigrants from Turkey and Arab states are lowering German intelligence quotients due to high birth rates and less education, and “have no productive function except in the fruit and vegetable trade.”
Mr. Sarrazin’s analysis and statistics have been roundly denunciated, and he has resigned his federal banker’s post – but his book quickly sold 1.5 million copies.
Why extreme-right views are coming to the surface
The Friedrich Ebert Foundation study that came out this week is based on 2,411 respondents and was conducted in April, prior to the recent emotional immigration debate sparked by Sarrazin, Seehofer, and Wulff.
The rise of racism and intolerance argued in the study contrasts with similar foundation studies, prior to the economic crisis in Europe, showing a decrease in racism or xenophobia. However, today nearly a third of Germans polled would consider a policy repatriating immigrants if the job market suffers further.
The authors of the study urge fellow Germans not to “underestimate” right-wing sentiment.
Oliver Decker, one of the study's authors, says the findings indicate a new popular willingness to express hardcore opinions.
“In the past the base for extreme-right views in Germany, though present, was more latent in nature. Now these views are being expressed more frequently,” Mr. Decker says. “The economic crisis seems to have allowed aggression come to the surface. Among those looking for a valve, foreigners in general and Muslims in particular fill that role.”