Considerable increase in anti-immigration sentiment among Germans

Anti-immigration sentiment has become “normal” in Germany, said authors of a new survey published by left-wing Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

Once known as a leading advocate for welcoming refugees in Europe, right-wing populist rhetoric in Germany has been gaining traction across the country. “The centre is losing its footing and its democratic orientation,” researchers said in a news report by German news agency DW.

According to the study, 54.1 percent of the respondents from all over Germany have negative view of migrants and asylum seekers. This is 10 per cent higher than that in 2014, when 44 per cent of Germans expressed concerns about migrants and asylum seekers. The Friedrich Ebert Foundation started releasing reports on right-wing extremism in Germany since 2002.

The study was conducted by a group of researchers from Bielefeld University. They interviewed 1,890 participants from across Germany between September 2018 and February 2019. One of the researchers, Wilhelm Berghan, said while majority of the interviewees praised democracy and democratic values, they also held illiberal ideas of democracy and viewed asylum-seekers in a negative light.

At the height of the migrant crisis in Europe in 2015, 890,000 asylum seekers were registered in Germany. Afghans rated among the top three nationalities, along with Syrians and Iraqis. Since then, the numbers have fallen, with just 187,000 registered in 2017.

The study also showed that the anti-immigration attitude is more common among citizens living in former East Germany. About 63 per cent were found to present such an attitude, compared to 51 per cent in West Germany.

The study also added that the level of discrimination has grown despite a decrease in asylum applications in the country. Nearly one-fifth of Germans have negative view on foreigners and one-fifth are also critical wards Muslims.

Reacting to the study, Germany Family Minister Franziska Giffey called for promoting democracy and strengthening of civil society. She said, “The consistently high acceptance of inhumane and anti-democratic attitudes is worrying.”

TMP – 14/05/2019

Photo credit: franz12 / Shutterstock.

Photo caption: A friendly family of migrants walks down the street in Munich.