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Warning against generalizations: Eastern Commissioner: Democratic practice is alien to many

Warning against generalizations
Eastern Commissioner: Democratic practice is alien to many

In the minds of many East Germans, a sense of authority from the GDR is still anchored, says Schneider, the new Eastern Commissioner. Nevertheless, he warns against generalizing about participants in the Corona protests. The SPD politician also calls on West Germans to be more open.

The Federal Government Commissioner for Eastern Europe, Carsten Schneider, assumes that authoritarian political attitudes from the GDR era are still having an effect today, but warns against generalizing. “Political attitudes and attitudes are often inherited and passed on,” he told the editorial network Germany (RND).

“Many people took to the streets in 1989 and that’s what made the peaceful revolution possible in the first place. But the democratic practice of negotiating compromises has remained alien to them. That can be seen in the membership figures of the parties – or when I see a mayor in a district seek.” That’s why he wants “young people in particular to dare to broaden their view of the world”.

At the same time, Schneider made it clear that he did not share the approach of his predecessor Marco Wanderwitz, who had often attacked the AfD and its East German voters head-on. “You have to say clearly what is,” he told RND. “But it shouldn’t give the impression that you’re giving up or insulting people.”

“Majority is not extremist”

This also applies to the current demonstrations. “For many, taking to the streets is their central political expression – rather than voting. Right-wing extremists try to exploit this. Violence and threats should not be used as a means,” said Schneider. But the majority of the simple demonstration participants are not extremist.

The SPD politician called on the West Germans to “be open and curious, not prejudiced. By the way, THE East doesn’t exist at all. Leipzig and Dresden are already different. Rural regions are completely different again. Woodcut-like images such as those that the East is right-wing extremists don’t fit in. In my constituency, 85 percent of the citizens voted for democratic parties.”

“It won’t work without immigration”

Schneider also emphasized that the East German economy needed immigrants. “We have to fill many jobs in East Germany,” he told RND. “At the time, the Prussians invited the Huguenots. Even today, East Germany will not be able to do without immigration. Companies are increasingly realizing this because they suddenly couldn’t find any more workers. A lot has already improved significantly.”

He added: “In the mid-1990s, a Pole in Erfurt would have had problems. At that time, he was considered a foreigner. Today, thousands of Poles live in Erfurt, and that’s no longer a problem at all. That’s great progress. You have to do that sometimes see positives.”

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