Germans Spurn Politics as Usual, as Disillusionment Takes Hold Soaring Costs of Reunification and the Strains of Absorbing Asylum-Seekers Are Weakening the Two Major Political Blocs That Have Led the German Government since World War II

By Ruth Walker, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, October 2, 1992 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Germans Spurn Politics as Usual, as Disillusionment Takes Hold Soaring Costs of Reunification and the Strains of Absorbing Asylum-Seekers Are Weakening the Two Major Political Blocs That Have Led the German Government since World War II


Ruth Walker, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


THE deep disappointment Germans are registering with the way Helmut Kohl's government has handled the challenges of reunification and the sensitive issue of asylum may alter the traditional coalition mathematics of the Bundestag - and Germany's political future.

Moreover, political scientists are finding troubling indications of a trend away from political engagement: Voter turnout, though still high, is falling, and party membership and other forms of participation are regarded less favorably.

"There's a great risk of fragmentation," says Jochen Thies, a political analyst and the managing editor of Europa Archiv. "There is danger in the asylum issue, that if it is not more or less settled, the fragmentation will go on."

"The basis of the political stability of the Federal Republic {of Germany} is its economic strength," says political scientist Dieter Roth. With Germany in a slowdown, if not a full recession, the strains of absorbing the expected 400,000 asylum applicants this year are apparent.

Germans are signaling unhappiness, not only with Chancellor Kohl's conservative coalition, reelected less than two years ago, but also with the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD).

Some observers say politicians are focusing too much on the Maastrict Treaty on European economic and political union while displaying reluctance to condemn violence for fear of alienating far-right voters.

To speak of a "drift to the right" in Germany is, for historical reasons, to sound an alarm. But elections are won "to the right of the center," says Finance Minister Theo Waigel, chairman of the rightist Christian Social Union (CSU).

Even politicians to his left seem to be heeding his motto. In a move seen as an appeal to the center and right, the SPD leadership has decided to pursue a constitutional change to restrict the right of asylum. In defense of the decision, party chairman Bjorn Engholm says, it is not a bad idea "to keep an eye on what moves the people."

The SPD members of the Bundestag, the federal parliament, broke with their leadership and boycotted Thursday's vote on a proposal to alter the Constitution to restrict the right of asylum. The SPD is to hold a special conference next month on whether to adopt the leadership's new policy proposal.

The question of dealing with the influx of foreigners has been framed by all the parties largely in terms of constitutional and other legal changes to restrict that influx; the situation is reminiscent of American proposals to balance the budget deficit by constitutional amendment.

Meanwhile, violence against foreigners, mostly attacks on asylum-seekers' hostels, continues unabated, with 1,400 assaults so far this year. No clear government counterstrategy is in view.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Germans Spurn Politics as Usual, as Disillusionment Takes Hold Soaring Costs of Reunification and the Strains of Absorbing Asylum-Seekers Are Weakening the Two Major Political Blocs That Have Led the German Government since World War II
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?