Alexandra Hashem-Wangler, MYPLACE team member at University of Bremen, summarises recent discussions in the German media on ‘Rightist tendencies’.
For more information on the MYPLACE project, visit the project’s website: HERE
Recently, a strong dicourse about the danger of right-wing attitudes and the necessity to counteract this tendency has become visible in German media. This discourse embraces not only the general fears with regard to the people’s savings in the banks, their Euro-scepticism and a newly founded anti-Euro party, but also adresses the (young) people’s sensitivity and awareness about rightist propaganda and points to possibilities of protesting against right-wing movements. In the following, we present three cases where the dicourse evolves both on national and on local level.
Euroscepticism in Germany
The Cyprus bailout, the fear that a lavy on bank savers could also happen in Germany – the consequences of these worries become apparent in Germany’s political party landscape, as well. The Euro-opponents now have a new political party called “Alternative für Deutschland”. The official foundation of this party will take place in April 2013, but there is already a considerable move towards this new political alternative. The key demands are the abolishment of the Euro currency and a Europe with souvereign states instead, the removal of Brussel’s bureaucracy, and a reorganization of the immigration law. Critical voices are being raised which point out that the party is clearly right-populist – the more because some of its sponsors and inofficial members have been engaged in rightist political programs in recent years (such as the initiative Pro Köln). The popularity of the party will turn out in September 2013 during the parlamentary elections. Till June 2013 the party needs at least 2000 signatures from each federal state in order to be accepted to the elections. Up to now, there are no visible reactions on the part of young people in Germany – neither on Facebook in general, nor in our WP7 cases. However, since our WP7 group members have repetitively mentioned their scepticism towards the long-established political parties and have been more positive with regard to the new Pirates Party, it remains to be seen how they will react to this new occurrence – the more because in our interviews there have been critical voices against the Euroean austerity.
The German Music Award “Echo” and boycotts against a right-affiliated rock band
There is another discussion about rightist influences that affects especially young people in Germany.During the last days there has been a vivid political debate about the nominees for the German music award “ECHO” taking place on 21st March 2013. The nomination of the Austrian rock band “Frei.Wild” has met heavy objections because of its right-oriented musicians.
The Protest was initiated by the German band “Kraftklub”, which was nominated in the same category as “Frei.Wild” (the category is „Rock/Alternative National“). The pop-band “Mia” followed and both bands refused their nomination in order not to be nominated in the same category as the right-oriented band. Also the rock-band “Die Ärzte” protested against the decision of the organizators – who claimed that the nominations base exclusively on sales figures. The participation boycott of the bands has been proclaimed via Facebook and has instantly triggered a wave of shares on the profiles of our WP7 cases as well as among other young people’s profiles.
As a consequence, the executive board removed “Frei.Wild” from the nominees’ list. This success has been welcomed by our WP7 groups and has been considered as a positive example for active engagement. It also shows how far pop culture is able to motivate people for engagement or even just to make them aware of the hidden propaganda and their personal possibilities to engage against rightist movements.
The beating up of a young German man by a migrant and the resulting rightist propaganda
A third case that has been distributed on Facebook by our WP7 group “Footballfans against Discrimination” refers to right-wing propaganda. Last week there was a deadly incident in a village near Bremen. Getting off the train at the station of the village at night, a fight between young men with immigrant background was observed by another young German man. When he intervened in order to de-escalte the situation, the other men started to attack him and beat him up so strongly that he died later on in hospital. The village community organized a commemoration service for the public and more than 200 persons attended this ceremony. However, even before the local media have written anything about it, the WP7 group “Footballfans against Discrimination” have already shared posts on Facebook warning that the commemoration service might be used by right-wing organizations for their propaganda against migrants (because the offender had a Turkish background). The group members who initially wanted to join the commemoration service were adviced to think twice in order not to confront the Nazis there. Later it became clear that the right-wingers planed a separate solemn vigil, which however has been forbidden by the police. In the end, the commemoration has been disturbed by some right-wingers who started to fight against the police. The case gained nation-wide attention – not only because of the brutality of the incident, but also because of the rightist missuse of the case.
There have been several discussions about delinquency of migrants in Germany. The statistics and the eminent problem have barely been openly discussed in the public discourse. It has always remained a tabooed topic and turned out as a grey zone for rightist argumentations.
In sum, these three incidents illustrate how omnipresent the discussions about right-populism are in Germany. The here presented discussions occure parallely to the nation-wide and parliamentary disputed question whether the right-wing party NPD (Nationale Partei Deutschland) should be banned or not. It shows that young people are confronted with the past in their everyday lives, even in pop culture. It also shows that there are plenty of cases where political legacy can be connected to present day life. Contrary to these examples, our WP2 focus group interviews have shown that young people from WP2 were not able to spin a dircet connection between the difficult past and the present. As we have put forward in our WP2 report, they merely have stated general conclusions that politicians should always be aware of what happened in the past – however without naming any concrete examples. Here, however, we see how sensitive and active young people from the respective WP7 cases can be – especially if the underlying topic matches their interests and sphere of engagement.