Surveys show that hardcore political beliefs are spreading beyond traditionally right-wing demographic groups. A new report from a German think tank has detailed a rise in far-right extremism across the country – this as memorials to victims of the Nazis raise the alarm about an uptick in vandalism and threats, writes Euronews.
According to the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, a centre-left research institute, its survey data indicates that as many as one in every 12 Germans now subscribes to some form of extreme right ideology. This is a serious increase relative to the much lower figures recorded in the biannual study, which has been running for two decades.
As foundation researcher Franziska Schröter explained to Euronews, one of the most striking changes in recent years is a detectable spread of extreme beliefs beyond Germany’s traditional generational divide.
“The acceptance of far-right attitudes is seen in every age group, depending on which phenomena you look at. What’s worrying us is a reversion in the trend,” she says.
“It used to be that the young ones were consistent democrats, rooting for equality instead of being revisionist and nationalist, while the older age groups had higher rates [of extremism]. We thought that demographics, globalisation and political education would help us in strengthening that. But now we see higher numbers among middle aged people, and especially young people.
“Young survey panelists who have mostly not experienced a war or the real threat of dictatorship in their lives, but who have endured a lot of crisis, seem to be leaning towards the idea that more dictatorship and less democracy could help get things done.”
Schröter also pointed out that there is a marked turn among young people towards sexism, homophobia and transphobia, positions that the far-right has long embraced.
The report comes just days after police broke up the German chapter of the Hammerskins, a long-established international white supremacist organisation that originated in the US.
It has now been banned by the German government, which considers it an extremist group that illegally spreads “racial theory based on Nazi ideology”.