Xenophobia is on the rise in Germany, in particular in its eastern states, according to a new study. What’s more, an increased affinity for authoritarianism in the country could pose a threat to democracy.
More than one out of three Germans believes foreigners only come to the country to exploit the welfare state, a study on authoritarian attitudes in Germany says. Almost one out of two people in eastern Germany believes this to be true, and almost as many people are convinced Germany is already “dangerously watered down” by foreigners — 35.6 percent of those interviewed overall held that conviction (44.6 percent among eastern Germans).
“More than 30 percent of the people living in eastern Germany unanimously agree with xenophobic views,” said Oliver Decker, the head of the study at the Leipzig-based Competence Center for Right-Wing Extremism and Democracy Research. That is a really high percentage, he told DW. Roughly 22 percent of western Germans agreed with those views. Since 2002, the institute has published a biennial study on authoritarian and right-wing extremist views in Germany.
The latest study found that prejudice against migrants has increased in general, in particular against Muslims, Sinti and Roma. The latter groups face significant aggression, Decker said. Almost 60 percent of the people who participated in the study agreed with the assumption that Sinti and Roma are prone to crime — almost 5 percent more than in the 2014 study.
Misgivings about Muslims have also increased. According to the study, more than 44 percent of those surveyed believe Muslims should be banned from immigrating to Germany, compared to 36.5 percent four years ago. More than one out of two (55.8 percent) said that the number of Muslims in Germany made them feel like strangers in their own country sometimes, compared to 43 percent in 2014.