Caused an uproar, the Federal Government’s Eastern Commissioner, Marco Wandrowitz (CDU). a few days ago He said In light of the fact that the right-wing Alternative for the Right in East Germany has had an approval rating of 20-30 percent of voters for years, and may become the strongest party in next Sunday’s state election in Saxony-Anhalt: “We’re dealing with people, some of whom are socially entrenched.” by dictatorship in such a way that they did not reach democracy even after thirty years.” Part of the population has “undemocratic views”. Wandrowitz considers only a small percentage of AfD voters to be “recoverable”. Educational work and hope for the “next generation” must be intensified.
Right-wing extremism in East Germany and the role of the CDU
For an East German politician, these assessments look like a shift. Finally, the problem of right-wing extremism and contempt for democracy in East Germany is no longer well talked about (as was the case with Kurt Bidenkopf (CDU), “Saxons are immune to right-wing extremism”). Finally, AfD voters are no longer treated as poor victims of the turmoil of the past 30 years, who unfortunately can only mark their cross behind AfD – a particularly greasy form of nanny paternalism.
In this regard, the statements of Marco Wandrowitz should be welcomed – even if they should be remembered: contempt for democracy in young people. Post-role generation Just as widespread, it has causes other than the damage done by the dictatorship. W: It was the CDU that constantly monitored the growth of right-wing extremism in East Germany over the past three decades and denied it.
People choose AfD of their own free will
However, critical reactions to Wanderwitz are more than revealing. East Germany is pushed back into the role of the victim by taking him under his protection. According to BILD, Sven Schulz, president of the Christian Democratic Union in Saxony-Anhalt, believes that people in the East should not be “insulted” in this general way. Former Eastern Commissioner Iris Celik (Social Democratic Party) warned that attention should be paid to the various reasons for the rise of the AfD. These included great economic inequalities, a sense of powerlessness in a complex world, a profound loss of confidence, and “a yearning for simple solutions or a murderous tendency to look for scapegoats.” (Leipziger Volkszeitung, June 1, 2021, p. 3).
Oddly enough, the most important fact is not mentioned by all of Wanderwitz’s critics: the AfD is elected by people who are not being forced to make their mark on this far-right party. You do this of your own free will and with knowledge of all the far-right, anti-democratic positions of many representatives of this party. So no one should call AfD voters unfortunate idiots. No, those who vote for the alternative do so with full conviction and knowledge of their inhuman program. No one should be relieved of this responsibility – unless we treat some people as poor, underage citizens. Whoever assigns responsibilities does not mistreat anyone, but takes them seriously and makes the situation clear.
Trump’s election as a warning
And we have one more thing to consider: democratic elections do not turn a far-right party into a democratic party. This is why the argument “But they are democratically elected!” It is not evidence of the party’s democratic feeling. Donald Trump’s 2016 Democratic election as President of the United States did not turn him into a Democrat. On the contrary, he used the election result, for which the voters and no one else bear the responsibility to destroy democracy and its apparatus in the United States. Thank God that voters in the United States ended this haunted house after four years. But everyone can experience on January 7, 2021, the extent to which Trump has already led his work of destruction. Do we want to let it get that far in East Germany?
So what helps? Three things:
- to state clearly and unequivocally what it means to vote for Alternative for Germany;
- Practice democracy education in all areas of society and involve people in democratic processes;
- An announcement to give enemies of the AfD and other far-right groups any chance for democracy.
East German self-confidence should in no way be reflected in areas other than promoting right-wing extremism with ballot papers and thus playing with fire. So instead of criticizing Marco and Andrewitz, one should adopt the style of his sayings and complement them accordingly in word and deed. The time has come – not just for the CDU.
The text first appeared in authors blog.