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Endangering Germany's Recovery?

The rise of extremist parties in eastern Germany has raised concerns about investor confidence in the country. DW-WORLD readers comment on the issue.


"German jobs for Germans first," reads the election poster

Historically (1920s to early 1930s), German voters have opted for far right parties whenever economic conditions have been difficult, and so the current economic problems in Germany's eastern states are contributing to the current political ascendancy of the far right parties. Coupled to this situation are immigration issues worrying sections of German population, a situation which will be exploited by far right parties. In essence these parties will be stronger when there is enough discontent within sections of German society to give them electoral support. -- Paul Innes, former teacher of German history, Australia

I think you have to start by recognising that the rise of right-wing extremism is not limited to Germany. Just as in the 1930s, when Nazism was not a purely German phenomenon, right-wing extremism has come out of a mixture of economics and politics. There are other parallels to the 1930s in the failure moderate politicians to take on the extremists. Declaring an organization 'illegal' does not stop it; sometimes, in fact, it encourages it. The real thing that needs to be drawn out of a movie like The Downfall (a new film about Hitler's last days) is precisely the fact that Hitler was just a man -- not a stark raving monster. This was his power and persuasion. Hitler didn't come to power then suddenly tear of his mask and say 'surprise', people were convinced by his arguments. Whilst we see images of skin-headed thugs and are repulsed by them, there are less obviously extremist messages being pumped out, which are reasonable on their face but have an underlying racism. Take for example, 'German Jobs for German Workers'; you can substitute whatever country you are in and it will still sound reasonable. But the next question you must ask (if you agree with the contention) is 'Who are the German workers?' and it is the way this question is answered that enables the right-wing to gain currency. How do you define 'German-ness' (or 'Australian-ness', or 'Japanese-ness', or 'American-ness')? Will you look at their passport or their parents (or their parent's parents)? Will you give them a language test (very popular in the 1930s) or an aptitude test? People are rational creatures and, generally, follow reason. But if there is only one set of 'reasonable' arguments being made, what are they to do? Although I agree with Dieter Wiefelspütz (the domestic policy expert for the Social Democrats in parliament) that in the end 'adult people' decide to vote for the extremists, he should know that if the right-wing extremists are the only ones making noise - what else are people going to listen too? -- Paul Hemsworth, Australia

It's really a shame to see the NPD and PDS gain popularity in the latest election. Investors and tourists will see these results and shy away. Realistically, what do the two parties envision as the future of Germany? They can not become totally isolated and succeed. Today's global economy and the fact that Germany is a leading player in the EU means those that want to go backwards, (and both of those parties certainly are not modern in their thinking) have few places to go. As I recall, Germany certainly is not an island, nor does it have the resources to completely isolate itself. I look forward to changes in the social welfare system there, the taxes are unbearable, and yes, some of it will be painful. Some times medicine is a little tough to swallow, reforming Germany's Social Welfare system will be, but it must be done for future generations if Germany is to remain a key player in the EU and region. -- Tony Clark, California, US

I cannot recall reading in the public media a similar question on the eve of German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder´s advent to power. An increase in the votes for a party in the opposition has always been brought about through the votes of "discontent voters." Schröder´s triumph had also been brought about through the discontent of disappointed voters. As for the question of "Who is to blame for far right extremism," we should first ask ourselves in the same manner: "Who was to blame for Schröder's ascent?" But at the time, not one single mainstream newspaper or TV channel asked such a question. Nobody saw the danger at that time. Now he is a blind man looking desperately for a light at the end of the tunnel while German economy lies in agony. Time for a change. -- Richard Klements, Austria

I live in the Southern United States in Tennessee. The so-called far right parties in Germany are no different from our Republican party in the American south . We also are against illegal immigration from millions of Mexicans who are flooding into our country every year . If the truth be known most southerners would not have any disagreements with your so-called far right parties. -- Neal Thompson, US

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