Germany’s commissioner for eastern Germany Macro Wanderwitz (CDU) has sparked controversy with comments that some people in the region have not yet properly grasped democracy – and this ahead of local elections in Saxony-Anhalt set for 6 June where far-right party AfD is set to have more than 20% of the vote.
“We’re dealing with people who have partly been socialised by a dictatorship in such a way that they haven’t yet arrived in democracy even 30 years later,” said Wanderwitz on a podcast for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, adding that he could only hope for the coming generations.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of the same Christian Democratic Party (CDU) refuted his statements on Wednesday.
“In a democracy, every citizen counts,” said Merkel, adding that anyone turning away from democracy is a great loss. The chancellor also called on politicians to make every effort – no matter how laborious or time-consuming – to win such people back.
Brandenburg Governor Dietmar Woidke warned against putting people under general suspicion and discarding those with different views, adding that issues related to the far-right were not limited to eastern Germany.
A study in 2020 found that 3% of the population in western Germany subscribe to far-right ideologies, compared to 10% in the country’s eastern part. (Nikolaus J. Kurmayer | EURACTIV.de)