Before state elections: Crafts president warns of success of extremist parties

Before state elections: Crafts president warns of success of extremist parties
Before state elections: Crafts president warns of success of extremist parties

The trade association president sees fears of decline, many citizens feel that they are not represented by politicians. What he says with a particular focus on the East and what dangers he sees for the economy.

Jörg Dittrich, president of the German Crafts Association, warns against electoral successes for extremist parties. “Playing on the fears of a society is extremely dangerous from the point of view of the economy and companies, because up to now we have achieved our prosperity on the basis of compromises,” Dittrich told the German Press Agency. “However, if resentment is stoked and backward-looking issues are given priority, we should be concerned. As an export nation, we thrive on cosmopolitanism, and that not only affects the necessary immigration in East Germany, but also the value of a strong euro, which has brought us prosperity.”

The President of the Central Association of German Skilled Crafts continued: “The concern is that people believe we can undo things. Instead, we must move forward and not fall back into the past. It is in this context that I see the upcoming elections: Will we succeed in convincing people to help shape positive change? Or will populists win who offer simple answers that do not solve real problems but only fuel them further?”

In September, the state parliaments in Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg will be elected. According to surveys, the right-wing populist AfD could become the strongest party, and forming a government could be difficult.

Crafts president sees fears of decline

Dittrich said he perceived a strong fear of decline in society. “Our own prosperity seems to be under threat. At the same time, there is a great deal of persistence, as every social group says: ‘Nothing can change here.’ These two seemingly contradictory poles – fear of decline and the desire to maintain status quo and stability – must be addressed and brought together.”

The solution is certainly not to turn things back – “we have to turn them further. Because: If we want to keep the prosperity that we have, this will only work under the changed conditions if we also move and change. Future prosperity can only be achieved through change and transformation. However, I do not see this narrative and understanding sufficiently in the political arena. On the contrary: politicians shy away from tackling the big issues and keep assuring us that everything will remain as safe as it was. But politics should be the spearhead of a positive forward movement.” Dittrich had named a fundamental reform of the social security systems as a major issue.

East like magnifying glass

East Germany is like a “magnifying glass,” said Dittrich, who comes from Dresden. “The people there have made a huge effort to change things, which was a huge effort for those who lived through it. That has not happened on this scale in the West. People say: “It is difficult to empathize with other people’s pain.” But one should at least try to understand what a profound turning point the collapse of an entire social system and economy represents: the vast majority of people in the East had to look for a new job. That is unimaginable.”

Hundreds of thousands of people moved away because there was no economic prospect. “And now we’re hearing again: ‘We have to get the climate change transformation going very quickly.'” This is another upheaval and an effort that is impacting on the local society.”

“It’s no use looking back”

Politicians must find solutions to people’s concerns, stressed Dittrich, citing demographic change and the shortage of skilled workers. But it is also clear: “In the East as in the West, it is of no use to look back; we must discuss how we want to live in the future. I can clearly see that most people would like to keep the living situation they have worked for.” If that is the case, changes must be actively addressed so that this can be maintained.

“This includes cosmopolitanism and the immigration of skilled workers and employees who can help us. Productivity gains alone are not big enough to close the gap created by demographic change. Nor is it enough to rely on the fact that we can solve all of this with artificial intelligence.”

Politicians are failing to take people’s concerns seriously enough, says Dittrich. “This is reflected in the election results. Many citizens feel unrepresented and abandoned. There is a lack of ability to present people with a clear plan that shows where the journey can go. This lack of orientation leads to uncertainty and disappointment, while the pressing questions of our time remain unanswered.”

Source: Stern

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