Far-right xenophobia goes mainstream in Germany

The acrid immigration debate sparked this summer by former Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin has apparently had an effect on the German public. A poll released on Wednesday showed that one-tenth want a “Führer”, while one-quarter admitted to strong xenophobic attitudes – up from one-fifth in 2008.

The poll, presented in Berlin by the Friedrich Ebert foundation for political education (FES), showed that xenophobic views are taking a greater hold among the German public than previously.

The 10 percent who wanted a “Führer” said that this person should “govern with a hard hand for the good of Germany” and believed a dictatorship to be a “better form of government”. One quarter of people questioned said they longed for a “strong party” that “embodies German society”.

More than 30 percent agreed with the statement, “foreigners come to abuse the welfare state”, said the FES, which is backed by the centre-left Social Democrats. Even more people – 31.7 percent – said that in a limited job market “one should send foreigners back home”, and that too many immigrants put Germany in danger of being “overrun” (35.6 percent).

Anti-Islam views were particularly strong in the FES poll, which surveyed 2,400 Germans aged between 14 and 90. Just over 58 percent said that “religious practice for Muslims in Germany should be seriously limited”, and that number rose to 75.7 percent for people from former East Germany.

The Local, 13 October 2010

Islam in Europe has further details and a link to the poll results.