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Far-right views gaining traction in Germany

Far-right views are increasingly widespread in Germany with one-in-six easterners sharing xenophobic and anti-Semitic views, a survey suggests.

The biennial Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) poll found that nearly 16 per cent of eastern Germans have what it termed a “cohesive far-right world view” – up from 10.5 per cent in the 2010 study. Far-right views in western states are stable at about 7 per cent.

Meanwhile, one in 11 Germans is likely to be anti-Semitic, the survey reveals – with hatred of Jews particularly pronounced among pensioners.

One in five thought Germany’s Jews – 0.13 per cent of the population – had excessive influence. Countrywide, one-in-four Germans hold xenophobic views.

Researchers warned of a “new generation of extreme-right” thinking in eastern Germany, where 38 per cent of 14- to 30-year-olds expressed anti-foreigner attitudes.

The satisfaction rating with democracy as a form of government is stable at 95 per cent.

The authors said their “unsettling” figures suggested a slow but steady shift in extremist views from the fringes to the mainstream of German society.

“Action at all levels – whether it is in education work, the media, civil society or democratic parties – is urgently needed,” said the FES authors about their analysis of data collected by the Usuma polling agency via face-to-face interviews.

“Structural problems in eastern Germany, which have still not been adequately addressed even 20 years after reunification” had, the authors added, helped contribute to a feeling among the young “that they are not needed” by society.

The study comes as Germany prepares for next year’s trial of the ringleader of the little-known National Socialist Underground (NSU), which operated undetected for more than a decade and is suspected of killing 10 immigrants.

A year after the NSU came to light, investigations have uncovered a series of overlooked leads and shredded files. Given the far-right views in the general population, the FES analysts suggested that “one has to assume that the security services is no island of saints”.

“How deeply have parallel structures developed here,” the report asked, “for which the far-right scene is more than an ally in spirit?”

Poll findings in numbers

10.6% agree partly or wholly there is “worthy” and “unworthy” life; 74.5% disagree partly or wholly

37.2% agree that Germany is overwhelmed by foreigners; 35.6% disagree

15.4% agree that, more than others, Jews use nasty tricks to get what they want; 63.5% disagree

7% agree that without the Jewish genocide, Hitler would today be seen as a great statesman; 71.6% disagree

16.2% agree that Germany needs one, strong party that represents the people; 60.2% disagree

Credit: Irish Times

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