One of the most often cited reasons for the collapse of the Weimar Republic, the democracy thriving between both world wars, is that culturally Germans did not cherish the order that was given to their state by foreign forces. In other words, Germans never embraced the values that make a democracy a democracy.
For a democracy to last a people must be willing to rise up in anger over government overreach and may do so even violently. Formally the German constitution gives that very right in Article 20, section 4.
In earlier posts I have described how the opposition in Germany is often accused of trying to abolish the constitution and democracy as a whole. The smallest criticism on the lack of term limits, the voting system, or lack of citizen participation is considered hostile.
Formally, of course, this behaviour cannot be defended because the constitution, like any constitution, opens paths to change aspects of it. Legally the core that may not be changed is defined as
- the protection of human dignity
- the principle of democracy as such
- due process and rule of law (in German coined ‘legal state principle’/Rechtsstaatsprinzip)
The second point, the principle of democracy, again is defined as
- the absence of a wanton and violent government
- the Bill of Rights/Human Rights as defined in the constitution
- sovereignty of the people
- separation of powers (executive, legislative and judicial power – I bite my tongue here)
- the transition of power, particularly in the executive branch
- the legality of the administration
- the multi-party system
Apart from the fact that many of these things aren’t really in place the collectivist idea that we must be ruled by parties speaks lengths about the tribal culture that Germany still is.
But is the culture even such to defend any such principles?
A recent poll of more than 21,000 participants by polling company Civey came to the conclusion that a surprising number wants conservatives to be excluded from the public discourse completely. As things still are in Germany 2017 public discourse by and large is conducted through television shows.
These talk shows are already problematic in the way they are run. Imagine you watch a discussion and the host says nonchalantly, ‘We come to this later.’ In German talk shows this sentence is frequently heard and makes perfectly clear that the whole conversation is orchestrated. It goes as far as to play prepared videos in between just coincidentally matching what the guests try to talk about. All of these shows are broadcast on state television, which may not be called that way. It must be called public broadcasting for whatever difference it makes.
With that background info you will understand the impact of the poll. The public discourse is a charade anyway, but even a participation of people whose views may differ is too much for Germans.
In the current year only four members of conservative party (AfD) have been invited to such talk shows. The other 158 guests generally had very different political affiliations. This information was given to the participants of the poll before they cast their choice.
The poll specifically asked: Shouldn’t members of the AfD be invited …
- …much more often?
- …a bit more often?
- …as often as is the current level (four out of 162 just about right)?
- …less often?
- …not at all?
- …huh (don’t know if more or less often)
35% of respondent want AfD members to disappear from public space (the talk shows) altogether. Another five percent doesn’t care (option 6 ‘huh’). About 9% think four invitations are too many. About 17% think four people so far this year is just about right.
I bore you. The sum is about 66% who think it is proper behavior of the state television to exclude the voices of the only conservative party, which is currently polling at about 9-10%.
Only 23% percent say that there should be many more invitations, given that – sorry for the repetition – we are talking only four occasions in this year (which sees the general elections in autumn).
And it is not even clear if these 23% would defend the right of any other group to publicly voice their opinion.
Based on Jürgen Fritz Blog