This is how Germans think the state should deal with political extremism

Riots at the G20 summit in Hamburg and neo-Nazis giving the Hitler salute at a far-right festival in Thuringia have made headlines in July. But how do Germans think the state should react to political militants?

This is how Germans think the state should deal with political extremism
Rioters in Hamburg during the G20 summit. Photo: DPA

A survey published by YouGov and Statista this week shows that 81 percent of Germans think that Germany has a growing problem with political extremism in general. Only one in ten respondents said that political extremism is not a growing problem.

A large majority (78 percent) believe that authorities have lost control of the problem. But ideas vary on how to deal with radicalism from the far left as well as the far right, the survey which was carried out on July 18th and 19th shows.

There was most consensus behind the idea of toughening sentencing for political radicals, with three in every five Germans (61 percent) viewing that as a necessary measure.

Close to half (46 percent) of respondents said radical political parties should be banned. Meanwhile 43 percent believe that more CCTV surveillance is the appropriate way of dealing with political extremism.

Roughly two in five people were in favour of a central database on extremists – a similar figure for those who wanted left-wing centres such as Hamburg’s Rote Flora to be shut down. At 40 percent, only slightly fewer people wanted a stronger police presence at political rallies.

A very small minority (2 percent) thought that the state should continue acting as it has done up until this point. Two percent, meanwhile, were of the view that authorities had been too tough on extremists.

The number of politically motivated crimes has been on the rise in recent years, increasing by 27 percent between 2014 and 2016, according to the Interior Ministry. More than half (57 percent) of the roughly 41,500 political crimes recorded in 2016 had a right-wing background, while about 23 percent were linked to the left-wing scene. 

Crimes deemed to be linked to a “foreign ideology” increased the most, shooting up by 66.5 percent. The Interior Ministry explained that this huge rise was mostly related to tensions in Turkey with Kurdish people.

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