Cut Number of Foreigners, 40% of Eastern Germans Say in Poll
By Patrick Donahue
July 21 (Bloomberg) — The number of foreigners living in Germany is too high and should be cut, two-fifths of people living in former communist East Germany said in a poll.
A total of 40 percent of eastern Germans totally agree that there are too many foreigners in Germany and that their number has to be reduced, while a further 34 percent partly agree, according to a SFZ research institute survey commissioned by Volkssolidaritaet, a welfare group.
The survey showed 7 percent of those over the age of 18 had sympathy for anti-immigrant parties, while 21 percent gave their position as neutral and 72 percent reject such political movements.
Two decades after communisms collapse, economic malaise in Germanys six eastern states has fed xenophobia and a potential tendency toward anti-immigrant extremism. In February, skinhead and neo-Nazi groups in Dresden staged one of their biggest demonstrations since German reunification in 1990, with some 6,000 protesters.
About 6.7 million foreigners live in Germany out of a total population of 82 million, according to the Federal Statistics Office.
Eastern Germany has an unemployment rate about twice that of the west and accounts for 11 percent of national output. The study showed that 40 percent of those surveyed have little connection to the Federal Republic of Germany and 10 percent none at all, while 47 percent feel a strong connection.
The continued policy of social reform — with sometimes deep cuts in the living standards of citizens — has led to a decreased sense of satisfaction, hope and expectation since 2000, Volkssolidaritaets president, Gunnar Winkler, said in a synopsis of the study posted on the groups Web site.
People in the region also have a more negative view of their economic situation, with 32 percent saying theyre in a good position, down from 47 percent in 1999, the study showed.
The survey polled about 1,900 people in the eastern German states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Brandenburg, and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania as well as former communist East Berlin. No margin of error was given.
To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Donahue in Berlin at at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Updated: July 21, 2009 10:18 EDT