Is the energy crisis causing new divide between eastern and western Germany?

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Is the energy crisis causing new divide between eastern and western Germany?
A heart, formed from the year 22, symbolises Thuringia's presidency of the Bundesrat and the Day of German Unity on Cathedral Square. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Martin Schutt

Thirty-two years after German reunification, dissatisfaction with German democracy is on the rise in the former East, while leaders of eastern German states warn that the energy crisis is jeopardizing the successes achieved in rebuilding since then.


The annual report of Germany’s Commissioner for eastern Germany has revealed that, in the east of the country, discontent with the democracy that was re-established with German reunification is growing rapidly.


In a survey of 4000 people presented in the report, only 39 percent of eastern Germans said they were satisfied with how democracy functions in Germany. Two years ago, this figure was nine points higher. In western Germany, satisfaction also fell during the same period, but only from 65 to 59 percent.

Only 26 percent in the east are satisfied with the federal government's current policies - and just 23 percent in the east and 33 in the west said they were satisfied with social justice in the country. 

READ ALSO: How your wages in Germany could depend heavily on where you live

Ahead of Unity Day celebrations, leaders of Germany’s former eastern states - Brandenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania and Thuringia - have said that the current energy crisis is making many in eastern Germany worried about losing what they have built up since reunification.

Speaking to the Rheinische Post, Brandenburg's state premier Dietmar Woidke (SPD) and Saxony-Anhalt's state premier Reiner Haseloff (CDU) talked about the concerns of citizens of the former East German states.

Woidke said that memories of mass unemployment following the reunification in the 1990s are still fresh in the minds of many who live in the former East.

"Therefore, it is also clear that the current situation is perceived with great concern and many are afraid that everything they have painstakingly built up over three decades will fall away," he said.

Haseloff told the newspaper that the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine is also endangering the successes of the reconstruction of the former East.

READ ALSO: 'Unity Day': How October 3rd became Germany's national holiday

However, Haseloff added that, especially in difficult times, Germans should not allow themselves to be played off against each other: "Today, solidarity and public spirit are more important than ever," he said.

Thuringia's state premier Bodo Ramelow (Left Party) also said that, despite problems such as wage differences between east and west, Germans should focus on their common ground. 


The process of growing together is still difficult, he said, but the overall picture is positive. "For me, the glass is half full," Ramelow said.

Saxony's state premier Michael Kretschmer (CDU) told the Redaktionsnetzwerks Deutschland (RND) that different views in east and west must be accepted, also with regard to the war in Ukraine.

"This war will be a cut that will go down in the collective memory of the Germans as a common, bitter experience," he said. Kretschmer added that it was time to stop looking back and work together to shape the new era.


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