East Germans Protest Against Government due to ‘Lack of Confidence in Democracy’

East Germans Protest Against Government due to ‘Lack of Confidence in Democracy’

EUROPE 21:08 06.10.2016

Following anti-government protests that took place in Dresden, Germany, on the Day of Unity, many politicians and journalists said that the problem of Germany’s eastern regions is in their so called “anti-democratic position.”

On their way to the celebration, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German President Joachim Gauck were insulted by protesters that took to the streets of Dresden, German media reported. The protesters called the country’s leaders “traitors,” chanting slogans like “Merkel has to go” or “Merkel to Siberia, Putin to Berlin.”

In an interview with Sputnik, professor at the Dresden University of Technology Werner Patzelt said that the reasons behind such behavior partially lie in “the lack of confidence in democracy.”

“A public opinion research shows that since the reunification of Germany, the level of confidence in democracy in the new federal states (former GDR) has been significantly lower than in the rest of Germany,” Patzelt told Sputnik.

“The same applies to the level of confidence in political parties and the government. We see that the two graphics showing the dynamics of the level of confidence in the old and new federal states differ from each other by approximately 20 percent. Both of them fluctuate up and down, but the gap between them doesn’t decrease,” he added.

Patzelt noted that after the initial euphoria that followed the reunification of Germany, many Eastern Germans started to perceive the political system of Western Germany and its residents as something that deprives them of their own identity. Western Germans came to eastern regions and occupied many leading positions in political, social and economic spheres, feeling superior toward their eastern co-nationals and considering themselves better, smarter and more progressive.

This conflict, the expert said, still exists nowadays. Western regions feel a certain moral superiority ‘ in the sense that they had already hosted some 20% of migrants and that they have less prejudices about the liberalization of immigration policy.” The fact that Western Germany considers itself a “bright Germany”, and eastern regions — a “dark Germany” — hurts so many East Germans that they prefer to support “Alternative for Germany (AfD)” and other non-ruling parties.

Patzelt believes that what is happening in Germany now gives strong reasons for concern. However, he is confident that reports about some kind of a catastrophe approaching the country do not correspond with reality.

According to the expert, such division can be overcome, but only if East Germans will take an active part in it. “They should vigorously engage in the construction of their country — of course, with substantial financial support from the old federal states,” the expert concluded.

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