- There has been a rise in racism in Germany and the AfD is blamed.
- Merkel’s conservatives and their Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners have accused the AfD of manipulating the grievances of eastern Germans.
- The post 1990 united Germany is not a successor state, but an enlarged continuation of the former West Germany.
Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel made a veiled attack on the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party on the 29th anniversary of German Unification Thursday, saying that economic grievances in the east were no excuse for racism. She said, ”It should never be the case that disappointment with politics however significant be accepted as a legitimate reason to marginalize, threaten or attack others because of their skin, color, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. The values of our constitution must guide each and every debate in our country. In concrete terms this means Yes to Open debate, Yes to tough demands from politics, No to intolerance, No to marginalization, No to hate and anti-Semitism, No to living at the expense of the weak and minorities.”
She said there was no justification for verbal attacks on foreigners under the guise of free speech, and that such attacks threatened democracy in Germany. Shortly after she spoke about 600 people took part in a far-right rally in Berlin with some carrying German flags and waving anti-Islam placards.
Merkel’s conservatives and their Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners have accused the AfD of manipulating the grievances of eastern Germans about lower wages and pensions, an exodus of young people, plans to phase out coal and the challenge of integrating a record influx of refugees– all to make political gains through populism.
AfD entered parliament two years ago in elections showing disquiet over Merkel’s 2015 decision to welcome almost one million migrants and her claim they were non-violent. The shooting of a pro-immigrant conservative politician in June and the rise of anti-Semitism have fueled debate about the anti-immigrant speeches of the AfD. The party has about 10% support in western regions and 14% nationally.
The report cited by Merkel showed that East Germany’s economic strength has grown from 43% in 1990 to 75% of the West Germany level. Employment is at a high in the east and wages are 84% of those in the West. She said, “A lot has been achieved in the past 29 years in the West as well as in the East and people are happier living under better conditions. We must learn to know why reunification for many people in the east is not only a positive experience.”
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic became part of the Federal Republic of Germany to form the reunited nation of Germany and when Berlin reunited into a single city. The post 1990 united Germany is not a successor state, but an enlarged continuation of the former West Germany.