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Populist Movements in Germany

Some people see the rise of populism, with Donald Trump in the United States and the Brexit movement in the UK, as a threat to democracy. Fans of Trump and Brexit, however, see these developments as a legitimate expression of democracy. Germany too has seen a rise in populist movements in recent years, but with Germany's history—the Nazis, the Second World War, and the Holocaust—the country is particularly sensitive to extreme right-wing political movements.


There was a major controversy in 2011 when it was discovered that the murder of nine immigrants in Germany, all previously falsely attributed by the German police to immigrant criminal gangs, turned out to have been committed by a group of German neo-Nazis called the NSU (Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund).


Weil die parlamentarische und politische Aufbereitung des NSU-Komplexes erfolgt ist...

Because the parliamentary and political preparation of issues surrounding the NSU have taken place...

Captions 9-13, Aufklärung der NSU-Verbrechen - SPD fordert Sonderkommission

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Die NSU-Morde scheinen bei ihm großen Eindruck hinterlassen zu haben.

The NSU murders seem to have left a great impression on him.

Caption 23, Blumio - Rappen für gute Unterhaltung

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In 2014, a political movement called Pegida was founded in Dresden. The name stands for Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes, or "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident." The founder of Pegida resigned in 2015 after releasing images showing him posing as Adolf Hitler and making racist statements, but he was later re-elected to lead the movement. 


Ich war auch nur einmal bei Pegida.

I’ve only been to one Pegida demonstration.

Caption 62, Böhmermann - Wie geht man als Satiriker mit Rechtspopulismus um? - Part 2

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Also in München: 100 Leute Pegida, 45 000 Gegendemonstranten.

So in Munich: 100 Pegida people, 45,000 counter demonstrators.

Caption 70, Böhmermann - Wie geht man als Satiriker mit Rechtspopulismus um? - Part 2

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The AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) political party, however, which was founded in 2013, has been far more successful. 


Man sollte auch nicht den Fehler begehen, AfD immer nur mit Flüchtlingen zu verknüpfen und jeden Menschen, der die AfD wählt, mit Antiflüchtlingsbewegung zu verknüpfen.

You shouldn't make the mistake of always just linking the AfD with refugees and associating every person who votes for the AfD with the anti-refugee movement.

Captions 47-49, Böhmermann - Wie geht man als Satiriker mit Rechtspopulismus um? - Part 3

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The AfD party currently (June 2021) occupies 88 (12.4%) of 709 seats in the German Parliament. 


The conservative Bavarian CSU leader Franz Josef Strauß once declared, "Rechts von der CSU darf es keine demokratisch legitimierte Partei geben," or "No democratically legitimate party should be allowed to exist to the right of the CSU." But with the AfD firmly established in German parliament, it appears Strauß's idea of limiting the right wing has now been overstepped. German voters, like voters in many countries in recent years, appear to be fed up with career politicians who seem to do nothing for the common man. Whether these right-wing parties and movements will actually change things for the better remains to be seen.


Further Learning
Read some German Wikipedia articles on Pegida and the AfD and get more insight into the rise of populism in recent years in Germany.

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