Extremism: Significantly more people share right-wing extremist positions

Significantly more people share right-wing extremist positions

Demonstrators – including from the so-called Reichsbürger scene – stand on the steps of the Berlin Reichstag building in 2020. Numerous imperial flags can also be seen. photo

© Achille Abboud/NurPhoto/dpa

People with a solid right-wing extremist worldview are a relatively small minority in Germany. However, a recent study reveals a worrying trend.

According to a recent study, right-wing extremist attitudes have increased sharply among the German population since 2021. Currently, one in twelve adults has a right-wing extremist worldview, according to a study published today by researchers at Bielefeld University states. At 8.3 percent, the share has increased significantly compared to the level of almost 2 to 3 percent in previous years.

According to the study, one cannot automatically conclude from a right-wing extremist attitude where someone locates themselves politically. “Among those who clearly position themselves as ‘left’, there are more people who share a solid right-wing extremist worldview (12 percent) than is the case in the political center (7 percent),” say the researchers led by Andreas Zick firmly.

The proportion of respondents who see themselves as right-of-center has also increased, according to the study entitled “The Distant Center.” While 15.5 percent of the population currently see themselves as right-of-center, in the previous survey it was just under ten percent.

This is not surprising if you look at the results of the voter surveys of the past few weeks. There, the right-wing populist AfD was around 22 percent nationwide. In principle, election surveys only reflect opinions at the time of the survey and are not predictions of the election outcome. They are also always subject to uncertainty.

“Ideology of inequality and violence”

For the “Mitte Study” by the SPD-affiliated Friedrich Ebert Foundation, right-wing extremist attitudes are examined every two years with a representative survey. The authors define the central feature of right-wing extremism as “an ideology of inequality and violence or the approval of violence to enforce the ideology.” Compared to previous years, the accusation of curtailed freedom of expression is shared by significantly more respondents, according to the study. “The same applies to the ethnic demand that different peoples should not mix with one another.”

The 2,027 participants in a telephone survey conducted by the UADS Institute in Duisburg between January 2nd and February 28th of this year were asked to take a position on certain statements, such as whether they would support a dictatorship. Based on the total sample, the error margin is, according to the authors, +/- 2.2 percent.

According to the information, 30 percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement “The ruling parties are deceiving the people” – almost twice as many as two years earlier. The proportion of those who approve of political violence has more than doubled. According to the study, it is currently 13.2 percent. Two years ago, 5.3 percent of respondents held this view.

Significant differences between West and East

This time, the authors of the study also wanted to know what concerns people in Germany are most concerned about in connection with the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. They found that while concerns about an expansion of the war are relatively dominant at 62 percent, concerns about rising energy prices come first at 66 percent. Basically, women are more concerned about the effects of war than men.

There are also significant differences between people who live in western and eastern Germany. According to the information, around 45 percent of people in the West fear that they will not be able to maintain their own standard of living in the long term as a consequence of this war. In the East, this concern concerns around 61 percent of people. According to the study, around 70 percent of people in the East and around 60 percent of the population in the West fear an expansion of the war.

The survey also asked whether people feel lonely. The researchers found that feelings of loneliness are similarly widespread in cities and rural areas. “For a long time, people in East Germany felt lonelier than in the West, but that has now almost leveled out,” the study says. Overall, 28 percent of those surveyed said that they often or often lack company. According to the study results, 15 percent of the population feel isolated from others. This means that loneliness is now back to a similar level as before the corona pandemic with its contact restrictions.


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