• Germany's news in English
 

German voters 'won't accept' Asian politician

Published: 09 Feb 2013 17:50 GMT+01:00

“In the case of Phillip Rösler I'd like to know whether our society has come far enough to accept an Asian-looking vice chancellor for much longer,” deputy state premier of Hesse Jörg-Uwe Hahn, told the Frankfurter Neue Presse on Thursday.

Immediately his comment was jumped upon by members of the opposition Social Democrats (SDP) and Green party and decried as racist. Rösler, who was born in 1973 in Khanh Hung, Vietnam, and was adopted by German parents, is the first German cabinet minister to have a completely foreign ethnic background.

“It's scandalous,” head of the SPD fraction Frank-Walter Steinmeier told ZDF television and added he expected Hahn to step down in light of his comments about his party leader.

Hahn, who is known in the party for inelegant formulations and unfortunate remarks, said he had been misunderstood. He had been taken for a racist, but had actually been referring to “widespread, often underlying racism” in German society, explained Hahn in a written statement on Thursday afternoon.

But it was too late, wrote Der Spiegel on Friday, the comment was out and the FDP - still reeling from sexism allegations over inappropriate comments made by Rainer Brüderle to a female journalist - found itself once again on the defensive.

In an attempt to save the situation, Rösler himself issued a statement on Friday to declare Hahn a close personal friend of his who was “above all suspicion of racism.”

“I don't understand the fuss about Jörg-Uwe Hahn's much-criticised interview comments,” said the FDP leader, vice chancellor and economy minister in the statement.

But then the opposition, smelling blood, simply changed tack. Hahn himself was not a racist, but he had insulted German society by calling voters racist.

“An unashamed allegation of racism towards society is hidden in Hahn's formulation,” secretary general of the SPD parliamentary fraction Thomas Oppermann told the Mitteldeutschen Zeitung regional newspaper on Friday.

So what, said head of FDP youth wing Lasse Becker, however crudely put, Hahn had a point about German voters. “The choice of words was obviously unclear. But it's necessary to have this debate,” Becker told the Passauer Neue Presse regional paper on Friday. He had often heard voters make racist comments about Rösler, he added.

“At the election campaign stalls in the street I often hear: I would vote for you guys, but you have to get rid of the Chinese guy first,” said Becker. “The problem is everyday racism in Germany, that's what has to be addressed.”

Others agreed: “As an FDP member I often experience open or veiled racist comments with a view to Rösler," Patrick Kurth, general secretary of the FDP in Thuringia, told the Mitteldeutschen Zeitung on Friday.

"At the same time we can be proud of our country, in which it is possible that a victim of the Vietnam war can make it into high office,” he added.

The Turkish Community association jumped on the opportunity to widen the discussion, wrote the Tagesspiegel on Friday, and has called for an open debate on German society's stubborn racism problem.

But the government sees no need for a debate, vice government spokesman Georg Streiter told the paper, hinting at concern in government circles that any further scandals may damage not only the FDP's, but also their coalition partner the conservative CDU's chances in September's election.

The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

21:23 February 9, 2013 by raandy
wow is me an asian in the wrong country .
21:31 February 9, 2013 by DerHirsch
Racist? Really? How many Asian countries have had caucasian leaders? How many blacks have been in power in any European country? The USA only in this century elected a black. Germany says this and is one again called names. Who was the last Asian PM of Great Britian or Canada or Australia or Mexico or Egypt? The majority of people, sadly, feel the same way the world over. Germany overtly mentions it and is black-balled.
21:40 February 9, 2013 by rajkshan
DerHirsch means to say that all the countries are Racist and he MEANS the word Racist should be removed from Dictionary.

FACT is Racism is ever more prevalent these days in Deutschland. The FACT is Deutschland cannot survive without Foreigners. This FACT is HARD for normal people to digest.
22:55 February 9, 2013 by chicagolive
The politicians is scream all they want but racism is alive and growing pretty well here. Of course if you are of the right race you would never notice that so for you their is no racism and you would find such comments offensive.
23:35 February 9, 2013 by PNWDev
@DerHirsch

Yup, amen. Even criticize a minority and we get labeled. Ask the Americans, they dont dare criticize bambam or they to get labeled too.
00:13 February 10, 2013 by Enough
Can't deny the fact that he doesn't look very German!
09:44 February 10, 2013 by Englishted
FACT is that he is leader of a party that attacks the lowest and weakest in society and favours the status quo (not the group) which is why his party is languishing so low in the polls and will with luck lose all their seats and power in the forthcoming election. Colour and race are not the issue in this case or would you say Germany was homophobic if they had their old leader?
10:33 February 10, 2013 by mitanni
Racism and discrimination are widespread in Germany, but I don't think that's the issue here. The problem with Rösler is that he is inexperienced and not very qualified, And the problem with his party is that it doesn't stand for much of anything; it certainly does not represent liberalism.
13:41 February 10, 2013 by zameenzad
How many times have you guys seen a Black, Brown, or Asian Police officer, Bank manager, Professor or Company executive?. NEVER.

There is a reason that people look down at Germans if you travel to any country and tell them you are German. Racism is in every place in Germany and it should be solved instead of hiding it under the carpet.
14:07 February 10, 2013 by antistar
Actually my CEO is Turkish. He is the CEO of a company that is the best of its kind in Germany, maybe in Europe, and one of the best in the world. He's been listed in the top ten of German business leaders in der Spiegel.

Not that Germany doesn't have problems with racism that it needs to deal with, especially in certain states, but I've lived and travelled all over Europe and it's definitely better here than elsewhere. That's also the opinion I get back from people of minority groups I speak to.
16:45 February 10, 2013 by TrullyAmazed
Dear reader,

Try to become a politician in Vietnam or China.. Germany most likely is racist. And China is not?
17:40 February 10, 2013 by Zubair Khan
"The problem is everyday racism in Germany, that's what has to be addressed.¦quot;

Above is a fact which must be accepted. Might be it will take many decades to control it but currently it prevails. Having foreign ethnicity I can verify the presence of racism in each segment of German society. Either with coloured skin or face shape one comes across this racism in daily life. USA and UK probably have controlled it to large extent but in Germany it is every where. Hahn very boldly pointed it out but now being politician stumbling.
21:13 February 10, 2013 by hsbrodt
I am Chinese and live and work in Germany and must say, if you do a good job, it will get rewarded here. And even to me as an Asian, Rösler lacks charisma and doesn't have the look of a weather-worn tough politician. What he needs is better PR and some grey hair, that's all. Racism exists everywhere but in Germany, you can turn things around by hard work and good results.
23:18 February 10, 2013 by strahlungsamt
Asian or not, Rösler is an idiot with a history of making inappropriate remarks. I've heard him call women bitches at a party convention. He's got George W. Bush's style and elegance and is a pretty sexist frat boy. He's the current village idiot of German politics. Plus the FDP is the least popular party right now, below 3% in the polls, mainly due to their neoliberal pro-business policies which don't go down well in times of high unemployment.

As for racism, the problem isn't too many foreigners. It's too few Germans. I just came back from Berlin, where I stayed in Moabit and Wedding districts. There's hardly any young Germans there anymore. Fertility is 1.35 kids per woman for the last 40 years and those few kids don't want to work anymore since every job only pays 400 euros a month now. Look at the doorbells in any building now, you see more Mohammeds and Truongs than Schmitts and Meiers. Then people wonder why their co-workers come from Somalia.
06:20 February 11, 2013 by RainerL
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
11:39 February 11, 2013 by royp
Hi is just boring very very boring, his persona is that of a boring middle class white guy we have enogh of them already. His politics were to represent the rich powerful business interests, what a shock no one likes rich corporations that are cutiing jobs during record profit times to make extra profit.

At least the Christian Democrats etc can hide the fact that they are pro-big corporations behind being pro religion & pro- family, the FDP don't have this base just a bunch of wierdo's. Also race was not a real issue, as his party are not a pro-immigrant party or a liberal party like the greens, or socialists, most voters play the good V.s. Bad immigrant game to justify their racism. But what is more interesting is that he does not come across as a real person just fake and wierd, maybe this is because of the race issue, being adopted and raised by Germans, and his need to fit in. Normally politicians have a home constituency, such as bavarians, or a country platform or urban platform, a religious base or a socialist base, or something folksys about them, such as supporting the local football team, or some important issue that was how they got into ,politics, such as the green movement, unemployment of family or friends in his community, social injustice, legal injustice, some wrong that needed to be righted, but no he just appears like some self interested ambitious shallow politician with no real values and no charm.
16:36 February 11, 2013 by minga
FDP is a party of self serving idiots with no realistic view of the German society. Their ratings are down due to this and has nothing to do with Rösler or racism.
14:56 February 12, 2013 by lovemymac&cheez
The Masters of Denial are at it again, folks.

"No, we didn't do that. We didn't start it. Ok, we did, but we didn't have to pay all that. We didn't lose the whole thing. It was just a stab in the back. Oh, we didn't lose that second round either. We were just following orders. Who was that again? Not us... we are too young for that! And we CERTAINLY did not invite those people to stay over more than a few months. They just chose to stop being guests... this is just some political party with low ratings, some loser politician, NOT US!!! We are NOT an immigration place!!!!"

Maybe it's time to stop denying facts and accepting people that are different from us a little more. This can be a very beautiful place to be, if we are just nice to each other.
00:25 March 6, 2013 by FAR
This is why I hesitate to go to Germany, I'm french and I'm from Reunion a french island in the Indic Ocean.. I have never had racism problem here in France, but when I crossed the border and I went t Germany (Munich) everything was race, when I told people I came from Reunion Island they said ""Ah ok so you're not really french, you get naturalization" I answered, Réunion is a FRENCH TERRITORY legitime as Paris or The French Rivera ... Everywhere I said I was french, I had to explain again and again (The real question was actually "Why you're french if you're not white?" ) That's was the real question, but my origin was like an obsession to germans... Really superficial society... this question was asked even when I went to buy an Ice Cream... I spaek a bit german as well... It doesn't surprise me this comments about his ethnicity, and the fact that he is german and have no other country since being adopted.. And for people who says "have you ever seen a country that bla bla bla "" I'll answer that yes, there is governors, presidents and so on of german background in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, etc .. (Like richiest man of Brazil, Dictator of Paraguay, etc) And I would say that they are ""ethnic" germans, but you're right, they are not germans, they hold the nationality where they were raised.. So its apply to Roesler, he doesn't hold the vietnamese citizenship he is german...
Today's headlines
'Hot Boy from Germany' wins Vietnam Idol
Image: Fremantle Media/YouTube

'Hot Boy from Germany' wins Vietnam Idol

A 22-year-old from Hanover has become the latest winner of Vietnam Idol – bagging $27,000 along with his new title. READ  

Man promises to stop coffin naps in public
If you want to rest in place while you're still alive, a car park isn't the place place to choose. Photo: DPA

Man promises to stop coffin naps in public

When a man walking his dog alerted police to the fact that a black coffin was lying in the middle of a public parking place, the cops were surprised to find someone inside. READ  

Court orders boss to pay worker for changing
Photo: Pixabay

Court orders boss to pay worker for changing

A mechanic from western Germany is set to receive €350 in back payments – after claiming he should be paid for the time he spent showering and getting dressed for work. READ  

In Pictures
Wacken festival draws metalheads of the world
A reveler at Wacken Open Air 2015. Photo: DPA

Wacken festival draws metalheads of the world

Armies of black-clad fans gathered for the world's biggest heavy metal festival between Thursday and Saturday, marking 25 years of headbanging fun in the small town of Wacken in northern Germany. READ  

Railway sunbather brings trains to a halt
Photo: DPA

Railway sunbather brings trains to a halt

A plucky sunbather brought train services in North Rhine-Westphalia to an abrupt halt at the weekend - after deciding to catch some rays on the tracks. READ  

Spiegel: Merkel wants fourth term in power
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA

Spiegel: Merkel wants fourth term in power

According to Germany's most influential political magazine, Spiegel, Angela Merkel has decided to run for a fourth term in power and has already started talks on who will run her campaign. READ  

State leaders call for faster asylum processes
Refugees at a temporary reception centre in Baden Württemberg. Photo: DPA

State leaders call for faster asylum processes

Several state leaders called for more investment in processing asylum applications over the weekend as the backlog continues to put severe strain on current infrastructure. READ  

German sets Florida to Cuba speedboat record
Roger Klueh. Photo: Ernesto Mastrascusa / DPA

German sets Florida to Cuba speedboat record

A German businessman and power boating fanatic on Saturday broke a 57-year-old record for the fastest boat crossing between the United States and Cuba. READ  

Report: German refugee figures 'underestimated'
Migrants on a train on their way to the EU. Photo: Djordje Savic / DPA

Report: German refugee figures 'underestimated'

Germany has hosted more than 300,000 asylum seekers since the start of the year, said the daily Die Welt on Saturday, nearly 50,000 more than first thought, as Berlin prepares for a record influx of refugees in 2015. READ  

Migrant wounded in German police shooting
Photo: DPA

Migrant wounded in German police shooting

A Guinean migrant who caused a brawl in a home for asylum seekers in Germany was shot and seriously wounded by police, local media reported. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
Start-up helps new Berliners short cut bureaucracy
National
The 1,000s of Germans massacred after the Second World War
Sport
Germany star scores own goal with PR gaffe
Features
'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?
Politics
Satire and reality blur in parody party's strife
National
13-year-old boy detained for trying to join Isis
Culture
Berlin restaurant serves up Greek Crisis Menu
Rhineland
Doctor on trial after woman wakes in morgue
Society
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Outsourcing drives Apreel's Europe growth
Society
Police bust kinky Bavarian couple over painful love-making
Politics
Merkel brings Palestinian girl to tears
Hamburg
Amateur archaeologist finds Nazi gold hoard
National
Could Merkel learn a lesson in love from this doppelganger?
Travel
Why you should stay in Germany for the summer holidays
Sport
German press tell Schweinsteiger 'good riddance'
National
Hamburg gets a bouncing 100kg baby girl
Society
In North Germany, money sometimes DOES grow on trees
National
Hero mechanics stop Bavaria shooting spree
International
Denmark says that border controls are coming
National
Did hackers take control of German missile battery?
Politics
Munich gives gay pride green light
Business & Money
Berlin rent controls hit prices hard
National
Fighting to breastfeed in public without shame
Society
Ice cream for dogs 'gobbled up in one gulp'
Education
Are hotpants a feminist issue?
Rhineland
Lion cub reunited with mother
National
How the heatwave is cracking Germany's Autobahns
International
Why the French are more sympathetic to Greece than the Germans
Sponsored Article
Crans-Montana: International expat hub
Gallery
Police seize pensioner's WW2 heavy weapons haul
National
How to survive the Europe-wide heatwave
Sport
Is Schweini already out of the door at Bayern?
Politics
How German media shaped the Greece crisis
National
Car assembly robot crushes worker at Volkswagen
Rhineland
Weathermen red-faced over heatwave snow warning
Society
An eye for an eye? Mum protects child in playground with pepperspray
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's final day in Germany
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's second day in Germany
National
Queen Elizabeth II's first day in Germany - as it happened
National
Bus passengers tell fake racists where to get off
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,129
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd