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Refugee Crisis in Germany: Political Institutions, Ideas, and Individual Behavior

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The political atmosphere in Germany continues to grow with intensity as recent protests from the far right against refugees increase. The tension has stood since the beginning of refugee acceptance in Germany but has increased amidst murders by foreigners throughout the last two years. In 2016, in Freiburg, Germany, a university student was raped by a man seeking asylum. The woman was left near a bed of water ultimately leading to her death by drowning. In another case, on August 16th, 2018, a practitioner who lived in Offenburg, was stabbed to death in front of a co-worker. The man responsible for the murder was from Somalia. Most recently, a man in Chemnitz was stabbed to death by two men who came from Syria and Iraq. Under the circumstances, there has been a rise in protests all over Germany from far-right political organizations. The political organizations, in specific neo-Nazis, Alternative für Deutsche (AfD), and The Hoodlums find Germanys’ sanctuary policies illogical, and therefore have taken the problem into their own hands through demonstration.

The author of the article was a staff member from DER SPIEGEL, who has remained anonymous. DER SPIEGEL is a left-liberal news publisher inclining others to think that the staff is also left-liberals. In the first line of the article, the line reads the question, “Return of the ugly German?”. The author also has a second part to the article titles “The Consequences of Hate”. The author finds the behavior and the ideology of these political organizations unpleasant. Throughout the article, the author has chosen language to represent the organizations actions in a poor manor. Numerous demographic variables might give insight as to why the author has written from a left-liberal perspective. The most obvious influencer, more than likely, is political ideology. Presumably somewhere along the left side of the political spectrum lies the author, which has influenced events in the article to be portrayed as a negative act. Perhaps nationality is another one. Assuming the author is from Germany, they are aware of German history and don’t want a repeat of the past, hence the first sentence and the second part of the article. The author is clearly against the hatred of other ethnicities, causing them to write negatively of the protests and marches.

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In the 19th Bundestag, there are seven parties. Of the seven parties, two parties known as the Christlich Demokratische Union (CDU) and Christlich-Soziale Union (CSU) are sister parties, normally harmonizing decisions with each other, but not with the refugee political talk in Germany. The party Alternative für Deutsche (AfD) is part of parliament as the third largest party in 2017, holding right-wing values. With all political decisions there is bound to be disagreement with means of what type of solution should be instilled. As it comes to no surprise, there has been extreme polarization as to the response of refugee acceptance in Germany. The CDU and CSU have a complete different response pertaining to refugee. Horst Seehofer, leader of CSU, and Angela Merkel, leader of CDU and chancellor of Germany, argued over closing the border to “secondary” migrants. Seehofer told Merkel he wanted the entire German border to be closed, Merkel disagreed, though eventually coming to a compromise. Seehofer could put check points on south Bavarian borders by Austria. The two coalition parties normally agree on most things, nevertheless this issue has them totally divided, just like the public.

The AfD is another political institution undoubtedly influencing the recent protests in Germany. However, the AfD is more than a political institution, it is also an idea that influences. There are other groups alike, the neo-Nazis, Pro-Chemnitz, and the Hoodlums. Having a platform to demonstrate racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia while being connected to extremist ideologies such as neo-Nazis and identitarianism, it is easy for people to speak prejudicially over others with no consequence. This could be a manipulating factor on people opposing refugees to speak out and demonstrate. The distinct behavior of the four murderers, inclined the far-right/extremist groups to have riots and protests pertaining to immigration. The far-right/extremist groups had to infuriate people of the town to get many protestors and support on their side, the anti-immigration side. They created headlines on a website and an article about the stabbing of the man in Chemnitz, Daniel H. , that he was trying to protect a woman from sexual assault before he was murdered, though police say there was no evidence of this heroic act. It was only written in this manner, to get people on the side of the right. According to SPIEGEL ONLINE, “The right-wing demonstrators used the victim of the knife attack as an excuse to stage their demonstration of power”. The way individuals respond to this event could contribute largely to peace or it could wreak havoc. Political institutions, ideas, and individual behavior are all influencers to the current situation in Germany, but are they of equal importance?

I personally think all three are a part of a hierarchical system. Ideas, being the top of the structure. Generally, guardians’ beliefs are predisposed to the child before they can even gather a sense of what their own beliefs are. Ideas form as a child through adolescence into adulthood. The individual behavior that is later in life displayed, could be a product of your ideas, or in this specific case, political ideology. The political institutions is a representation of the people and their ideas. Without ones’ idea, of racism, xenophobia or Islamophobia, they are less likely to participate in protests or riots. Ideas are the thought process, and individual behavior is what demonstrates the thought process. Concerning the riots in Germany, ideas seem to influence the individual behavior of rioters and protest groups.

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