Report of the Eastern Commissioner: Germans dissatisfied with politics

Stephen Locke

Correspondent for Saxony and Thuringia based in Dresden.

NAll in all, only 42 percent of Germans are satisfied with the political situation in Germany. That is ten percentage points less than in 2020, according to a representative survey of 4,000 people in July and August of this year on behalf of the Federal Government Commissioner for Eastern Europe. Carsten Schneider (SPD). According to the report presented in Berlin on Wednesday, the decline is clear in all parts of Germany. The trust of Germans in politicians has also fallen significantly. Only 32 percent in the East and 42 percent in the West believe that the well-being of the country is important to politicians. 44 percent believe that politics is so complicated that it is no longer possible to understand “what is going on”.

Satisfaction with the federal government has also fallen significantly. In 2020, 53 percent of Germans were still satisfied with it, today it is still 35 percent, and in the east only 26 percent. According to the study, 59 percent of western Germans are satisfied with democracy as it works in Germany, but only 39 percent of eastern Germans. Both parts of the country agree on the statement that “we should finally have the courage to have a strong national feeling again”. Almost two-thirds agree. On the other hand, those questioned expressed clear doubts when it came to the issue of freedom of expression: Only 43 percent of East Germans and 58 percent of West Germans took the view that in this country one could always freely express one’s opinion “without getting into trouble”.

Still high life satisfaction

It should hardly come as a surprise that almost two thirds of East Germans, but only one third of West Germans, believe that East Germans are “frequently treated as people of two classes”. When it comes to social justice issues, fears fueled by the Russian war in Ukraine are also evident. In the face of rising energy and food prices, only 23 percent of people in the East and 33 percent in the West believe that Germany is socially just. Overall, however, life satisfaction is still high – at 79 percent. In the east, and especially in rural areas, satisfaction is somewhat less pronounced.

The survey is part of the report “East Germany – a new perspective”, which is being published for the first time by the Federal Government Commissioner for Eastern Europe and is to appear in future in alternation with the Federal Government’s report on the status of German unity. In two other chapters of the report, guest authors from East Germany describe their experiences with the unit in sometimes very personal texts. In addition, the federal government’s plans for equal living conditions are listed. “It’s time for a new look at East Germany,” said Carsten Schneider. In the years after reunification, the focus was often on the deficits in the East, which contributed to a distorted view. He wants to change that.

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