An extremism of their own
According to Die Zeit, right-wing extremism in eastern Germany has taken a clearly different form from related tendencies in the West.
|View today's updated headlines from Germany|
This observation corroborates long-term observations regarding societal development in eastern Germany, where dictators had ruled for decades since 1933 and left an authoritarian, parochial legacy. The dictatorship may have ended in 1989, but pluralistic and tolerant conduct has not been able to take roots with many people.
...with economic foundations
Some 60% of Germans regard the relatively worse economic situation in eastern Germany as the main reason behind people in the eastern regions condoning right-wing extremism.
In an opinion poll conducted by the EMNID Institute on Thursday, this majority said that they would expect the attraction of right-wing groups to fade given a sustained economic upturn in eastern Germany. However, 36% expressed their doubt about the existence of such a connection.
High praise for Fischer
Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, who has been under heavy fire by the Christian Democratic opposition for weeks for his partially violent left-wing radical past in the 1960s and 1970s, enjoys, in spite it all, an unprecedented level of popularity among the Germans.
In the most recent opinion poll (also conducted by EMNID), about 75% of those interviewed thought Fischer was "doing a good job," with only 10% of them saying the opposite.
Final decision in Hessen
The Hessen electoral review court, an ad-hoc institution, decided that the centre-right government of the land of Hessen, led by Minister President Roland Koch, will be allowed to remain in office despite an admittedly flawed conduct during Koch's 1999 election campaign.
This decision, reached after a year of legal debate, follows a recent ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court, which stated that the initial decision of the Hessen body was based on too narrow an interpretation of the term "moral obstacles" present in the constitution of the Hessen land. In a preliminary ruling, the electoral court had questioned the legitimacy of the January 1999 electoral victory by the Christian Democrats, after becoming aware that Koch had used some of the "slush fund money" managed by former chancellor Helmut Kohl during the election campaign.
But the Federal Court held that, while "morally doubtful," the use of secret funds had no provable influence on the election results. For the entire length of the debate, Koch had stubbornly refused to step down. His remaining at the helm of the state government has been labelled "a blow to public confidence in the rule of law" by Social Democrats and Greens; however, these parties are not expected to drive the legal issue any further.
Koch is regarded as potential contender for federal party leadership by the conservative wing of the Christian Democrats, malcontent with the relatively liberal team of Angela Merkel and Friedrich Merz.
Jens Boysen, 23 February 2001
- Archive of Germany news reviews
- View today's updated headlines from Germany
- Browse through the CER eBookstore for electronic books
- Return to CER front page
Today's updated headlines from Germany