A year ago, former central banker Thilo Sarrazin‘s social-darwinistic, xenophobic and racist theses have been all the rage in the German public sphere. This wave culminated in his party, the social democrats (SPD) trying to expel him… yet miserably failing to do so (sic!).
Amazingly, keeping Sarrazin in their ranks, albeit reluctantly, didn’t hurt the SPD’s popularity and reputation too much. They may, as a consequence, have lost some votes and members from Germans of Turkish and Arab descent, but apparently have more than made up for those losses by additional Sarrazin fans. What amazes me the most, is that the SPD’s popularity hasn’t dwindled among the poor and disenfranchised, even though they have been viciously attacked and repeatedly labeled by Sarrazin as lazy, dumb, and having basically themselves to blame for their predicament. Maybe loyally sticking to the SPD despite Sarrazin’s continued membership is actually a sign of poor judgement from those poor people?
It’s been quiet around Sarrazin for quite some time. Like a Ghost of Xenophobia Past, he resurfaces every now and then in minor and rather insignificant media events, but that’s about it. A newly formed far-right party, “die Freiheit”, named after and inspired by Dutch über-islamophobe Geert Wilders’ PVV party, failed miserably in the regional elections of Berlin with approx. 1% of the votes.
In other regional elections, extreme right-wing parties didn’t fare better. On the contrary: even in Baden-Württemberg, the (moderate) conservatives of the CDU who have been in charge for decades, have been kicked out in the elections, and replaced by ecologists (!) and social democrats. This happened after local CDU head Stefan Mappus sent in some rather brutal riot police against peaceful protesters in Stuttgart, injuring many elderly and children with pepper spray and batons, and permanently blinding one old man in the process with their high pressure water cannons.
So is it over with the right-wing menace? Hard to tell. Politically, the far right has poor perspectives in Germany. But their rhetoric is dangerous nonetheless, as it motivated, among other extreme right wing voices, Norway’s terrorist Anders Behring Breivik to his killing spree.