They say live in a kind of dictatorship reminiscent of the communist regime of the Democratic Republic of Germany (GDR). The leaders of the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) ensure that in today's Germany "there is no true freedom of expression." In Germany today, they say, "Stasi methods" apply – the dreaded Ministry for State Security of the GDR. In the elites of the country, with Chancellor Angela Merkel in front, come to AfD conspirators that, before the elections, "they take care that the will of the voters does not come true."
The 'resistance' to the "new GDR" is AfD, they believe in the ultra party. In AfD, its politicians like to compare themselves with the New Forum, a political movement that was instrumental in the mobilizations that led to the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the GDR. In the xenophobic movement of the European Patriots against the Islamization of Europe (PEGIDA), a movement with which AfD does not hide its affinities, there are even those who say: "In 1989 we went out, and now we have to go out again because the situation is much worse." All of that is a supermarket, but politically it works. AfD is the third political force in the country.
In East Germany, in what was once Communist Germany, one in five Germans voted AfD in the 2017 elections. In the recent regional elections in the Länder of Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia, AfD has even improved that proportion. Precisely in these campaigns, the regional leaders of AfD they invited voters to make a "revolution 2.0", expression with which they alluded to the peaceful revolution that knocked down the Berlin wall and the GDR. Moreover, the AfD leader in Thuringia, Björn Höcke or, as they have called him already outside Germany, "the new Hitler", celebrated its last election result (23.4%) exclaiming: "Voters have voted for the 2.0 revolution."
AfD is using the legacy of those decisive chapters in the history of Germany – and the western world – to derive political returns. "The legacy of the 1989 mobilizations against the GDR It is an inheritance that has changed meaning", Karl-Siegbert Rehberg, a sociologist and professor at the Technical University of Dresden, the capital of Saxony, explains to SPANISH. In that city PEGIDA emerged and remains mobilized. In Saxony, AfD is the second political force. They vote there for AfD one in four voters.
"In 1989 he shouted in the streets 'We are the people!' to remind the Government who the people were and to invite the GDR State to leave. But now it shouts 'We are the people!' For indicate who should decide on the borders"Rehberg points out. It refers to the most listened to songs in the PEGIDA mobilizations or in the AfD public events.
That this Saturday marks three decades of the fall of the Berlin wall and the beginning of the collapse of the GDR is something that benefits AfD politically. Because "there is still a feeling that there has been in the lives of East German citizens a devaluation of the value of their lives and that they have not been involved in their destinies, ”explains Thomas Sandkühler, historian and professor at the Humboldt University of Berlin, to THE SPANISH.
That feeling has a lot to do with the traumatic transition to capitalism of the GDR communist and how western Germany ended up taking the reins of the Teuton East. The historian Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk presents in his latest book entitled Die Übernahme (Ed. C.H. Beck, 2019), or "The takeover", the roots of the problem of what was communist Germany. "Three decades have passed and almost one in two East Germans still feel like second-class citizens. The elites and executives of East German are only rarely East Germans. At the beginning of 2019, only between 2% and 4% of Germans from the east they occupied important positions in politics, administration, business, science and culture, ”Kowalczuk explains in his book. These data speak of the hoarding of the elites of the German West of the relevant positions in the East German and evoke the origins of much of the frustration felt in what was the GDR.
Postcommunists, neo-Nazis and conservatives disappointed
Until the emergence of AfD, Die Linke was the party that best knew how to take the vote of those who have been disappointed with the reunification. It's not like that. Otherwise, Die Linke would not have lost some 420,000 votes that in the last general elections went to AfD. A more recent example is that of the Thuringian elections, where Die Linke lost almost 7% of his electores for the benefit of AfD.
"A lot of AfD voters have been voting for Die Linke for years and, before, the PDS (post-communist party that emerged in 1989 that would end up forming Die Linke, ndlr)," says Rehberg. "The PDS was something specific to East German, Die Linke has evolved no longer has that focus put in the East German, this disappointed many and there is inscribed the success of AfD ", abounds the sociologist of the University of Dresden.
"Disappointment" is also the word that Sandkühler uses to refer to another great bleeding of voters. The one that AfD has meant for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). "In AfD there are many disappointed CDU voters," but "obviously AfD receives its voters from many sectors of society", according to Sandkühler.
Among those sectors, there is also the most extreme of German politics, today embodied by movements such as PEGIDA, and at the end of the last century and the beginning of the latter, by parties such as the right-wing extremists of the German People's Union (DVU) and the one that will end it absorbing, the neo-Nazi formation National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD). When AfD is asked about this part of the electorate, the party's leadership responds that in formation the voters are not asked what they voted in previous appointments with the polls.
Be that as it may, 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, AfD "is introducing himself as the spokesman for East German voters." It does so successfully despite the poor relationship they have with reality much of what their leaders say in what was the GDR. There, three decades ago, free media were forged, got the respect of human rights and, among other things, the freedom of demonstration enjoyed by those who apparently see Angela Merkel's Germany as a dictatorship.
Those achievements came with the 1989 revolution. Beyond the success of AfD, it is not really known what will come with his "revolution 2.0".