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Minority chancellor a 'problem' for many voters

Published: 13 Feb 2013 10:51 GMT+01:00

The vast majority of Germans have no issue with Vice Chancellor and Free Democrat Party (FDP) leader Philipp Rösler's ethnic Vietnamese background, a survey by YouGov published on Tuesday suggested.

The poll comes a less than a week after FDP politician and deputy state premier of Hesse Jörg-Uwe Hahn caused a stir by questioning whether German voters would not accept a "an Asian-looking vice chancellor" for much longer.

Hahn's comments prompted a debate over latent racism in German society after several FDP politicians also said they had often heard voters make racist comments about Rösler.

Yet according to YouGov, just 11 percent of Germans surveyed would describe Finance Minister Rösler's background as "problematic", against 79 percent who said it made no difference to them.

However, for many voters the idea of being ruled by a German chancellor of foreign extraction would be a step too far, figures suggest.

Twenty nine percent said they would not like it if the top spot was given to an ethnic non-German, compared with 11 percent who would welcome it and 46 percent who said they did not mind either way.

Voters would be similarly skeptical about a gay leader, the survey suggested, with 26 percent of participants saying they would not support one. Meanwhile 14 percent said they liked the idea, whereas for the majority - 46 percent - the chancellor's sexuality did not matter.

Interestingly, though a majority said they personally did not have a problem with Rösler's ethnicity, 22 percent said they thought it had a negative effect on the FDP's chances in September's parliamentary election.

Among FDP supporters, this number was lower; with seven percent saying having a party leader of Vietnamese extraction was a problem and 15 percent believing it worsened the party's chances.

The survey polled 1,047 German voters between 8th and 12th February.

DPA/The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

12:04 February 13, 2013 by sonriete
These poll results don't surprise me. Like everywhere else I think the German media and political class is a lot more liberal than the general public. If anything else, people tend to not admit racism to pollsters, anyone of them who did not answer that they "welcomed" the prospect are probably in the opposed category, that is why it is useful to include the "mushy middle" option so those who are opposed but won't say so can decline to say they would welcome it, how can one not welcome it but not be to some degree be opposed?
19:38 February 13, 2013 by George16
So, come on. A nice list of minority ministers we already have: wheel chair, openly gay, women, Bavarians, East Germans, French and Polish origin names. And on top we used to have a half Scotsman as prime minister in Niedersachsen state...
22:53 February 13, 2013 by Englishted
Well they were not always so close minded, if you assume Austrian's were a ethnic minority at some point.
00:19 February 14, 2013 by pepsionice
We are probably only thirty years away from some German who was born in the US....becoming Chancellor.
10:28 February 14, 2013 by Tonne
I'm guessing that they are not so much worried about his ethnicity as they are about his competence as a leader of the FDP and a minister.
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