More than half of Germans surveyed in a monthly poll classify racism as a major social ill. At the same time, those polled say social issues are more important than asylum and refugee matters. Jefferson Chase (Berlin) reports.
German society is still struggling with racism. That’s one of the major conclusions from the Infratest-Dimap “Germany Trend” poll for August, which was released on Thursday (2 August).
When asked about their opinion on the issue, 64 percent of respondents said that racism was either a “very big problem” (17 percent) or a “big problem” (47 percent). Some 35 percent of respondents said that racism was either a minor problem or not a problem at all.
That opinion prevailed across the political spectrum with the lone exception of supporters of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), only 37 percent of whom saw racism as a big or very big problem. Supporters of the Greens (77 percent), the center-left Social Democrats (77 percent) and the Left Party (73 percent) were more likely to rate racism as a serious social blight than those of the conservative CDU/CSU (59 percent) and the business-friendly Free Democrats (57 percent).
Interestingly, people with immigrant backgrounds were only slightly more likely (68 percent) to see racism as a major problem than those without immigrant backgrounds (63 percent).
And people from formerly communist eastern Germany were more prone (71 percent) to rate racism as serious than those from the west (62 percent).
The topic has gained considerable attention in recent weeks after star midfielder Mesut Özil accused the German football association of racism and relatives of the victims of a neo-Nazi murder spree expressed disappointment with what they called institutional bias in the German legal system.
Social issues top the agenda
The Infratest-Dimap survey also confirmed the finding of other polls that, despite more intense media coverage given to the issue, Germans are less concerned with asylum and refugee matters than with classic social issues.
When asked which issues were important to them, a whopping 97 percent of respondents said policies affecting health care and care for the elderly were “very important” or “important.” This was followed by concerns about pensions and social benefits (95 percent) and protection from crime (90 percent).
Asylum and refugee policies came in second-to-last in the list of seven choices, with only 39 percent of respondents rating them “very important.”
In the main Germans seem to be unhappy about the current government. On none of those seven issues did a majority of those asked say that they were satisfied with their leadership.
The latest edition of Merkel’s government, her fourth since 2005, got particularly poor marks on the creation of affordable places to live, with 77 percent saying they were “unsatisfied” or “very unsatisfied.” Some 16 percent said they were “satisfied,” and zero percent chose “very satisfied” on this issue.