Interview with CNN: Germany’s pandemic response (hah!)

CNN had a chat with Wolfgang Merkel, Gero Neugebauer, and yours truly about the highs and lows of Germany’s pandemic response. Of course, the media are more interested in agency than in structure, but I managed to sneak in a concept or two. And so this may (or may not) be the first piece on CNN featuring the words “veto” and “point” in close proximity.



Two thoughts on 3 decades of German unification

There is this journalist in Slovakia who occasionally sends me questions about the Radical Right and or Germany. It’s one of these wonderful relationships that the internet makes possible: we have never met in person, never even spoken on the phone, but for years we have been swapping messages and ideas.

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of German unification, he sent me these two. No idea if they ever made it into an article, but I’m currently cleaning out my mailbox and thought I might repost our exchange here.

After 30 years, what is the most positive aspect of Germany reunification, and why, and what really didn’t go that well, and why?

In my view, the most positive aspect is that Germany managed to integrate the population of the former GDR without large-scale social upheaval. Exactly a decade ago, I had the opportunity to talk to an official from the South Korean Ministry for Re-Unification. They were very worried that in the (very unlikely) event of Korean re-unification, unhappy northern soldiers could form a guerilla. While the mode and the outcomes of unification are rightfully controversial in Germany, insurgency was never a concern.

On the other hand, unification was organised as the accession of the GDR to Western Germany. Western Germany stayed very much as it was. Eastern institutions that worked well (most prominently universal state-run child care and public transport) were scaled back massively. Unification tied up so many political and social resources that unified Germany was neither willing nor able to address the shortcomings of the old republic.

From your perspective, what is the most important challenge (except COVID-19) Germany has to face in the foreseeable future?

Germany has managed the integration of the eastern population reasonably well, but it has fallen other West European nations when it comes to integrating the so-called second and third generation of immigrants, let alone those who have arrived more recently. Germany is also trailing many of its neighbours in terms of gender equality. So in my view, 30 years after unification, building a more modern, inclusive and equitable society should be our priority.

August 2020: Four in five Germans want stricter enforcement of the Corona rules

The self-styled Corona rebels will hold yet another rally tomorrow. After a massive mobilisation drive that is supported by various far right orgs, they are expecting about 25,000 participants. In all likelihood, they will claim that a million people took part in the March on Berlin™.

To put this in perspective, here are some findings from today’s Politbarometer. 77 per cent of the population want tougher checks to enforce the existing rules. The breakdown by party is intriguing: even amongst the supporters of the AfD, which is desperately trying to jump on the Corona-sceptic bandwagon, about 48 per cent want more enforcement.

Four in five Germans want stricter enforcement of the Corona rules 5

And only ten per cent think that the measures are over the top (60 per cent think they are about right, and 28 per cent want stricter rules). For a mass rebellion, that’s a lousy point to start from.

Four in five Germans want stricter enforcement of the Corona rules 6

Retro-Blogging Research: Rhineland-Palatinate, Lakatos, Turkey & Political Opportunity Structure

Every now and then, I spend a merry evening pulling half-forgotten manuscripts/preprints into this not-so-new website. So here is tonight’s potpourri:


Banning Germany’s NPD – Not a Very Bright Idea

The NPD is Germany’s oldest surviving Extreme Right party. It has been around for about five decades. After merging with its long-time rival German People’s Union (DVU, the ruling mentioned in the post was finally squashed), it is also a serious contender for the coveted title of Germany’s daftest party (see exhibit number one). While it has been electorally successful occasionally, for most of its history it has been confined to the lunatic fringe. While parties such as the Front National, the Freedom Parties in Scandinavia or the Austrian FPÖ have thrived, the NPD has, apart from a brief period in the late 1960s, always been at the very margins of German politics.

This is not to say that the NPD is not a dangerous, racist and outright nasty party. Therefore, the idea of banning the NPD has surfaced time and again, becoming its own Doppelgänger after the 2001-2003 disaster. Upon granting the matter due consideration, I think the plan is largely bonkers. If this kind of concise verdict does not impress you much, you can read my full analysis of the proposed NPD ban at the extremis project, the go-to site for all thing, well, extreme.